Relating age and hearing loss to monaural, bilateral, and binaural temporal sensitivity

Frederick J. Gallun, Garnett P. McMillan, Michelle R. Molis, Sean D. Kampel, Serena M. Dann, Dawn L. Konrad-Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Older listeners are more likely than younger listeners to have difficulties in making temporal discriminations among auditory stimuli presented to one or both ears. In addition, the performance of older listeners is often observed to be more variable than that of younger listeners. The aim of this work was to relate age and hearing loss to temporal processing ability in a group of younger and older listeners with a range of hearing thresholds. Seventy-eight listeners were tested on a set of three temporal discrimination tasks (monaural gap discrimination, bilateral gap discrimination, and binaural discrimination of interaural differences in time). To examine the role of temporal fine structure in these tasks, four types of brief stimuli were used: tone bursts, broad-frequency chirps with rising or falling frequency contours, and random-phase noise bursts. Between-subject group analyses conducted separately for each task revealed substantial increases in temporal thresholds for the older listeners across all three tasks, regardless of stimulus type, as well as significant correlations among the performance of individual listeners across most combinations of tasks and stimuli. Differences in performance were associated with the stimuli in the monaural and binaural tasks, but not the bilateral task. Temporal fine structure differences among the stimuli had the greatest impact on monaural thresholds. Threshold estimate values across all tasks and stimuli did not show any greater variability for the older listeners as compared to the younger listeners. A linear mixed model applied to the data suggested that age and hearing loss are independent factors responsible for temporal processing ability, thus supporting the increasingly accepted hypothesis that temporal processing can be impaired for older compared to younger listeners with similar hearing and/or amounts of hearing loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number172
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Issue number8 JUN
StatePublished - 2014


  • Aging
  • Binaural
  • Gap discrimination
  • Hearing loss
  • Monaural

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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