Purpose: The purpose of this article is to examine explanations for pure-tone average–spondee threshold differences in functional hearing loss. Method: Loudness magnitude estimation functions were obtained from 24 participants for pure tones (0.5 and 1.0 kHz), vowels, spondees, and speech-shaped noise as a function of level (20–90 dB SPL). Participants listened monaurally through earphones. Loudness predictions were obtained for the same stimuli by using a computational, dynamic loudness model. Results: When evaluated at the same SPL, speech-shaped noise was judged louder than vowels/spondees, which were judged louder than tones. Equal-loudness levels were inferred from fitted loudness functions for the group. For the clinical application, the 2.1-dB difference between spondees and tones at equal loudness became a 12.1-dB difference when the stimuli were converted from SPL to HL. Conclusions: Nearly all of the pure-tone average–spondee threshold differences in functional hearing loss are attributable to references for calibration for 0 dB HL for tones and speech, which are based on detection and recognition, respectively. The recognition threshold for spondees is roughly 9 dB higher than the speech detection threshold; persons feigning a loss, who base loss magnitude on loudness, do not consider this difference. Furthermore, the dynamic loudness model was more accurate than the static model.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid of Research from the University of Minnesota, awarded to the first author, and by a Charles E. Speaks Graduate Fellowship from the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, University of Minnesota, awarded to the second author. We are grateful for Professor Brian Moore’s advice about implementing the dynamic loudnesss model for our conditions.
© 2017 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.