Investigating time-efficiency of forward masking paradigms for estimating basilar membrane input-output characteristics

Michal Fereczkowski, Morten Løve Jepsen, Torsten Dau, Ewen MacDonald

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It is well known that pure-tone audiometry does not sufficiently describe individual hearing loss (HL) and that additional measures beyond pure-tone sensitivity might improve the diagnostics of hearing deficits. Specifically, forward masking experiments to estimate basilarmembrane (BM) input-output (I/O) function have been proposed. However, such measures are very time consuming. The present study investigated possible modifications of the temporal masking curve (TMC) paradigm to improve time and measurement efficiency. In
experiment 1, estimates of knee point (KP) and compression ratio (CR) of individual BM I/ Os were derived without considering the corresponding individual “off-frequency” TMC. While accurate estimation of KPs was possible, it is difficult to ensure that the tested dynamic range is sufficient. Therefore, in experiment 2, a TMC-based paradigm, referred to as the “gap method”, was tested. In contrast to the standard TMC paradigm, the maker level was kept fixed and the “gap threshold” was obtained, such that the masker just masks a low-level (12 dB sensation level) signal. It is argued that this modification allows for better control of the tested stimulus level range, which appears to be the main drawback of the conventional TMC method. The results from the present study were consistent with the literature when estimating KP levels, but showed some limitations regarding the estimation of the CR values. Perspectives and limitations of both approaches are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere017477
JournalP L o S One
Issue number3
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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