Auditory masking occurs when one sound (usually called noise) interferes with the detection, discrimination, or recognition of another sound (usually called the signal). This interference can lead to detriments in a listener's ability to communicate, forage, and navigate. Most studies of auditory masking in marine mammals have been limited to detection thresholds of pure tones in Gaussian noise. Environmental noise marine mammals encounter is often more complex. In the current study, detection thresholds were estimated for bottlenose dolphins with a 10 kHz signal masked by natural, anthropogenic, and synthesized noise. Using a band-widening paradigm, detection thresholds exhibited a pattern where signal thresholds increased proportionally to bandwidth for narrow band noise. However, when noise bandwidth was greater than a critical band, masking patterns diverged. Subsequent experiments demonstrated that the auditory mechanisms responsible for the divergent masking patterns were related to across-channel comparison and within-valley listening.
Auditory masking patterns in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) with natural, anthropogenic, and synthesized noise
Brian K. Branstetter, Jennifer S. Trickey, Kimberly Bakhtiari, Amy Black, Hitomi Aihara, James J. Finneran; Auditory masking patterns in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) with natural, anthropogenic, and synthesized noise. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 March 2013; 133 (3): 1811–1818. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.4789939
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