Masking Effects in Binaural Detection and Interaural Time Discrimination

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This study was designed to investigate the effects of masker level and frequency on binaural detection and interaural time discrimination. Detection and interaural time discrimination of a 700-Hz sinusoidal signal were measured as a function of the center frequency and level of a narrowband masking noise. The masker was a continuous, diotic, 80-Hz-wide noise that varied in center frequency from 250 to 1370 Hz. In the detection experiment, the signal was presented either diotically (NoSo) or interaurally phase reversed (NoStt). In the interaural time discrimination experiment, the signal level needed to discriminate a 30-μS interaural delay was measured. As would be expected, the presence of the masker has a greater effect on NoSo detection than Noπ detection, and for masker frequencies at or near the signal frequency. In contrast, interaural time discrimination can be improved by the presence of a low-level masker. Also, performance improves more rapidly as the signal/masker frequency separation increases for NoSo detection than for interaural time discrimination and NoSπ detection. For all three tasks, significant upward spread of masking occurs only at the highest masker level; at low masker levels, there is a tendency toward downward spread of masking.



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