Masking by harmonic complexes in birds: Behavioral thresholds and cochlear responses

Robert J. Dooling, Micheal L. Dent, Marjorie R. Leek, Otto Gleich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Thresholds for pure tones embedded in harmonic complexes were measured behaviorally and physiologically for three species of birds, and physiologically in gerbils. The harmonic maskers were generated using the Schroeder-phase algorithm, characterized by monotonically increasing or decreasing phase across frequency. Previous work has shown that these stimuli produce large differences in masking in humans but not budgerigars. In this study, we show that for two additional species of birds, the patterns of masking were similar to those shown for budgerigars, with masking differing only slightly for the two Schroeder-phase waveforms, and in the opposite direction from that demonstrated in humans. Amounts of masking among species corresponded qualitatively to differences in their critical ratios. Evoked potential measurements in birds and gerbils indicated responses that were consistent with the behaviorally measured thresholds in birds and humans. Results are interpreted in light of differences in frequency selectivity and cochlear temporal processing across species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-172
Number of pages14
JournalHearing Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Bird
  • Cochlear microphonics
  • Harmonic complex
  • Masking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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