Masking of a brief probe by sinusoidal frequency modulation

Brent W. Edwards, Neal F. Viemeister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Contrary to level detection models, the thresholds for a brief-duration probe masked by a sinusoidal frequency modulation (FM) masker increases as the modulation index (β) of FM increases [Zwicker, Acustica 31, 243-256 (1974)]. In this paper the reason for this phenomenon is investigated. In experiment 1, a 10-ms, 1-kHz probe was detected in the presence of an FM masker centered at 1 kHz and sinusoidally modulated at 16 Hz. Thresholds increased by over 15 dB with increasing β, consistent with Zwicker's findings. In experiment 2, the instantaneous frequency changes of the masker used in experiment 1 were clipped and the resulting thresholds indicated that detection was determined primarily by the masker's total frequency excursion rather than by its instantaneous sweep rate. In experiment 3, the FM maskers from the first two experiments were passeLi through a roex filter centered at 1 kHz and the resulting envelope was used to amplitude modulate a 1-kHz tone, producing approximately the same effective envelope at 1 kHz as the FM maskers. Threshold functions for the amplitude modulated (AM) maskers were similar to those for their corresponding FM maskers. Thresholds increased by over 15 dB while the total energy of the AM masker decreased by over 10 dB, again contrary to standard level-detection models. The results from these experiments can be explained, at least qualitatively, by a model based on envelope shape discrimination: similarities between the envelopes of the masker alone and masker-plus-probe at the output of an auditory filter centered on the frequency of the probe are primarily responsible for the observed masking, particularly at large β's.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1010-1018
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 1997

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