Decision strategies of hearing-impaired listeners in spectral shape discrimination

Jennifer J. Lentz, Marjorie R. Leek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The ability to discriminate between sounds with different spectral shapes was evaluated for normal-hearing and hearing-impaired listeners. Listeners detected a 920-Hz tone added in phase to a single component of a standard consisting of the sum of five tones spaced equally on a logarithmic frequency scale ranging from 200 to 4200 Hz. An overall level randomization of 10 dB was either present or absent. In one subset of conditions, the no-perturbation conditions, the standard stimulus was the sum of equal-amplitude tones. In the perturbation conditions, the amplitudes of the components within a stimulus were randomly altered on every presentation, For both perturbation and no-perturbation conditions, thresholds for the detection of the 920-Hz tone were measured to compare sensitivity to changes in spectral shape between normal-hearing and hearing-impaired listeners. To assess whether hearing-impaired listeners relied on different regions of the spectrum to discriminate between sounds, spectral weights were estimated from the perturbed standards by correlating the listener's responses with the level differences per component across two intervals of a two-alternative forced-choice task. Results showed that hearing-impaired and normal-hearing listeners had similar sensitivity to changes in spectral shape. On average, across-frequency correlation functions also were similar for both groups of listeners, suggesting that as long as all components are audible and well separated in frequency, hearing-impaired listeners can use information across frequency as well as normal-hearing listeners, Analysis of the individual data revealed, however, that normal-hearing listeners may be better able to adopt optimal weighting schemes. This conclusion is only tentative, as differences in internal noise may need to be considered to interpret the results obtained from weighting studies between normal-hearing and hearing-impaired listeners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1389-1398
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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