Maximum Expected Information Approach for Improving Efficiency of Categorical Loudness Scaling

Sara E. Fultz, Stephen T. Neely, Judy G. Kopun, Daniel M. Rasetshwane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Categorical loudness scaling (CLS) measures provide useful information about an individual’s loudness perception across the dynamic range of hearing. A probability model of CLS categories has previously been described as a multi-category psychometric function (MCPF). In the study, a representative “catalog” of potential listener MCPFs was used in conjunction with maximum-likelihood estimation to derive CLS functions for participants with normal hearing and with hearing loss. The approach of estimating MCPFs for each listener has the potential to improve the accuracy of the CLS measurements, particularly when a relatively low number of data points are available. The present study extends the MCPF approach by using Bayesian inference to select stimulus parameters that are predicted to yield maximum expected information (MEI) during data collection. The accuracy and reliability of the MCPF-MEI approach were compared to the standardized CLS measurement procedure (ISO 16832:2006, 2006). A non-adaptive, fixed-level, paradigm served as a “gold-standard” for this comparison. The test time required to obtain measurements in the standard procedure is a major barrier to its clinical uptake. Test time was reduced from approximately 15 min to approximately 3 min with the MEI-adaptive procedure. Results indicated that the test–retest reliability and accuracy of the MCPF-MEI adaptive procedures were similar to the standardized CLS procedure. Computer simulations suggest that the reliability and accuracy of the MEI procedure were limited by intrinsic uncertainty of the listeners represented in the MCPF catalog. In other words, the MCPF provided insufficient predictive power to significantly improve adaptive-tracking efficiency under practical conditions. Concurrent optimization of both the MCPF catalog and the MEI-adaptive procedure have the potential to produce better results. Regardless of the adaptive-tracking method used in the CLS procedure, the MCPF catalog remains clinically useful for enabling maximum-likelihood determination of loudness categories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number578352
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
StatePublished - Nov 17 2020


  • categorical loudness scaling
  • loudness
  • loudness perception
  • maximum likelihood
  • psychoacoustics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Maximum Expected Information Approach for Improving Efficiency of Categorical Loudness Scaling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this