Informational masking and musical training.

  • Oxenham A
  • Fligor B
  • Mason C
 et al. 
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Abstract

The relationship between musical training and informational masking was studied for 24 young adult listeners with normal hearing. The listeners were divided into two groups based on musical training. In one group, the listeners had little or no musical training; the other group was comprised of highly trained, currently active musicians. The hypothesis was that musicians may be less susceptible to informational masking, which is thought to reflect central, rather than peripheral, limitations on the processing of sound. Masked thresholds were measured in two conditions, similar to those used by Kidd et al. [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 95, 3475-3480 (1994)]. In both conditions the signal was comprised of a series of repeated tone bursts at 1 kHz. The masker was comprised of a series of multitone bursts, gated with the signal. In one condition the frequencies of the masker were selected randomly for each burst; in the other condition the masker frequencies were selected randomly for the first burst of each interval and then remained constant throughout the interval. The difference in thresholds between the two conditions was taken as a measure of informational masking. Frequency selectivity, using the notched-noise method, was also estimated in the two groups. The results showed no difference in frequency selectivity between the two groups, but showed a large and significant difference in the amount of informational masking between musically trained and untrained listeners. This informational masking task, which requires no knowledge specific to musical training (such as note or interval names) and is generally not susceptible to systematic short- or medium-term training effects, may provide a basis for further studies of analytic listening abilities in different populations.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Music
  • Perceptual Masking
  • Pitch Discrimination
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Sound Spectrography

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Authors

  • Andrew J Oxenham

  • Brian J Fligor

  • Christine R Mason

  • Gerald Jr Kidd

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