Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders


Document Type


Date of this Version



J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 153 (4), April 2023.


Used by permission.


Forward masking is generally greater for Gaussian noise (GN) than for low-fluctuation noise maskers, i.e., GN disruption. Because the minimal hearing loss that is associated with older age may affect GN disruption differently than more significant hearing loss, the current study explored the contribution of minimal hearing loss associated with older age to GN disruption. GN disruption was measured using three masker-signal delays (25, 75, and 150 ms) for three adult groups: younger participants with normal hearing (NH), older participants with minimal hearing loss, and older participants with sensorineural hearing loss. The role of underlying mechanisms was tested using a computational model for midbrain neurons. The primary result suggests that older listeners with mild threshold elevations that typically occur with age may be more susceptible to the deleterious effects of masker envelope fluctuations than younger listeners with NH. Results from the computational model indicate that there may be a larger influence of efferent feedback and saturation of inner hair cells on forward masking and GN disruption than previously considered.