Effect of masker-frequency variability on the detection performance of infants and adults.

The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

PubMedID: 16838539

Leibold LJ, Werner LA. Effect of masker-frequency variability on the detection performance of infants and adults. J Acoust Soc Am. 2006;119(6):3960-70.
The effect of masker-frequency variability on the detection performance of 7-9 month-old infants and adults was examined. Listeners detected a 300-ms 1000-Hz pure tone masked by: (1) A random-frequency two-tone complex; (2) a fixed-frequency two-tone complex; or (3) a broadband noise. Maskers repeated at 300-ms intervals throughout testing at 60 dB SPL. The signal was presented simultaneously with one presentation of the masker. Thresholds were determined adaptively using an observer-based method. Infants' thresholds were higher than adults' in all conditions, but infants' and adults' thresholds changed with masker condition in qualitatively similar ways. The fixed two-tone complex produced masking for both age groups, but more masking for infants than for adults. For infants and adults, the random two-tone complex produced more masking than broadband noise, but the difference was greater for infants than for adults. For infants and adults, the random two-tone complex produced more masking than the fixed two-tone complex, and the difference between these conditions was similar for both age groups. These results suggest that infants are more susceptible to informational masking than adults in the absence of spectral variability. Whether infants are more susceptible to the effects of masker-frequency variability than adults remains to be clarified.