Findings are described from three experiments that were designed to contrast estimates of auditory time and frequency analysis in highly practiced, young adult subjects having sensorineural hearing loss of cochlear origin with subjects having normal hearing. In one experiment, pure-tone detection threshold was measured for two durations of tones. For the hearing-impaired subjects, smaller differences were found between thresholds for the two durations of tones than were found for the normally hearing subjects at test frequencies where the sensitivity loss was greatest. In a subsequent forward masking experiment, masked thresholds were obtained at 3 kHz as a function of masker level at several masker durations. The results indicated that, for the range of values tested, masked probe thresholds changed less as a function of masker duration for the hearing-impaired subjects than for normally hearing subjects. However, forward masking grew as a function of masker level more steeply for the hearing-impaired listeners than for the normally hearing listeners. We believe that this result indicates abnormal temporal processing of sequential sounds. In a third experiment, psychophysical tuning curves were measured in a forward masking procedure for two maskers that differed in duration by approximately an order of magnitude. Again, the hearing-impaired subjects demonstrated less change in forward masking as a function of masker duration than normally hearing subjects. Further, the sharpness of the tuning curves from the hearing-impaired listeners was markedly reduced as compared to normal. It is believed that the results reflect a disruption of the normal temporal and spectral representation of sounds in the hearing-impaired subjects.
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