Recent studies in normal-hearing listeners have used envelope-vocoded stimuli to show that the masking of speech by noise is dominated by the temporalenvelope fluctuations inherent in noise, rather than just overall power. Because these studies were based on vocoding, it was expected that cochlear-implant (CI) users would demonstrate a similar sensitivity to inherent fluctuations. In contrast, it was found that CI users showed no difference in speech intelligibility between maskers with and without inherent envelope fluctuations. Here, these initial findings in CI users were extended to listeners with cochlear hearing loss and the results were compared with those from normal-hearing listeners at either equal sensation level or equal sound pressure level. The results from hearing-impaired listeners (and in normal-hearing listeners at high sound levels) are consistent with a relative reduction in low-frequency inherent noise fluctuations due to broader cochlear filtering. The reduced effect of inherent temporal fluctuations in noise, due to either current spread (in CI users) or broader cochlear filters (in hearing-impaired listeners), provides a new way to explain the loss of masking release experienced in CI users and hearing-impaired listeners when additional amplitude fluctuations are introduced in noise maskers.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by NIH grant R01 DC012262.
© The Author(s) 2016.
- Cochlear hearing loss
- Hearing in noise
- Speech perception