This study assessed whether audiometrically-defined “slight” or “hidden” hearing losses might be associated with degradations in binaural processing as measured in binaural detection experiments employing interaurally delayed signals and maskers. Thirty-one listeners participated, all having no greater than slight hearing losses (i.e., no thresholds greater than 25 dB HL). Across the 31 listeners and consistent with the findings of Bernstein and Trahiotis [(2015). J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 138, EL474–EL479] binaural detection thresholds at 500 Hz and 4 kHz increased with increasing magnitude of interaural delay, suggesting a loss of precision of coding with magnitude of interaural delay. Binaural detection thresholds were consistently found to be elevated for listeners whose absolute thresholds at 4 kHz exceeded 7.5 dB HL. No such elevations were observed in conditions having no binaural cues available to aid detection (i.e., “monaural” conditions). Partitioning and analyses of the data revealed that those elevated thresholds (1) were more attributable to hearing level than to age and (2) result from increased levels of internal noise. The data suggest that listeners whose high-frequency monaural hearing status would be classified audiometrically as being normal or “slight loss” may exhibit substantial and perceptually meaningful losses of binaural processing.
Behavioral manifestations of audiometrically-defined “slight” or “hidden” hearing loss revealed by measures of binaural detection
Leslie R. Bernstein, Constantine Trahiotis; Behavioral manifestations of audiometrically-defined “slight” or “hidden” hearing loss revealed by measures of binaural detection. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 November 2016; 140 (5): 3540–3548. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.4966113
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