Excitation-based and informational masking of a tonal signal in a four-tone masker

Lori J. Leibold, Jack J. Hitchens, Emily Buss, Donna L. Neff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This study examined contributions of peripheral excitation and informational masking to the variability in masking effectiveness observed across samples of multi-tonal maskers. Detection thresholds were measured for a 1000-Hz signal presented simultaneously with each of 25, four-tone masker samples. Using a two-interval, forced-choice adaptive task, thresholds were measured with each sample fixed throughout trial blocks for ten listeners. Average thresholds differed by as much as 26 dB across samples. An excitation-based model of partial loudness [Moore, B. C. J. (1997). J. Audio Eng. Soc. 45, 224-237] was used to predict thresholds. These predictions accounted for a significant portion of variance in the data of several listeners, but no relation between the model and data was observed for many listeners. Moreover, substantial individual differences, on the order of 41 dB, were observed for some maskers. The largest individual differences were found for maskers predicted to produce minimal excitation-based masking. In subsequent conditions, one of five maskers was randomly presented in each interval. The difference in performance for samples with low versus high predicted thresholds was reduced in random compared to fixed conditions. These findings are consistent with a trading relation whereby informational masking is largest for conditions in which excitation-based masking is smallest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2441-2450
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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