Temporal fine structure (TFS) sensitivity, frequency selectivity, and speech reception in noise were measured for young normal-hearing (NHY), old normal-hearing (NHO), and hearing-impaired (HI) subjects. Two measures of TFS sensitivity were used: the “TFS-LF test” (interaural phase difference discrimination) and the “TFS2 test” (discrimination of harmonic and frequency-shifted tones). These measures were not significantly correlated with frequency selectivity (after partialing out the effect of audiometric threshold), suggesting that insensitivity to TFS cannot be wholly explained by a broadening of auditory filters. The results of the two tests of TFS sensitivity were significantly but modestly correlated, suggesting that performance of the tests may be partly influenced by different factors. The NHO group performed significantly more poorly than the NHY group for both measures of TFS sensitivity, but not frequency selectivity, suggesting that TFS sensitivity declines with age in the absence of elevated audiometric thresholds or broadened auditory filters. When the effect of mean audiometric threshold was partialed out, speech reception thresholds in modulated noise were correlated with TFS2 scores, but not measures of frequency selectivity or TFS-LF test scores, suggesting that a reduction in sensitivity to TFS can partly account for the speech perception difficulties experienced by hearing-impaired subjects.

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