The present study set out to test whether greater susceptibility to modulation masking could be responsible for immature recognition of speech in noise for school-age children. Listeners were normal-hearing four- to ten-year-olds and adults. Target sentences were filtered into 28 adjacent narrow bands (100-7800 Hz), and the masker was either spectrally matched noise bands or tones centered on each of the speech bands. In experiment 1, odd- and even-numbered bands of target-plus-masker were presented to opposite ears. Performance improved with child age in all conditions, but this improvement was larger for the multi-tone than the multi-noise-band masker. This outcome is contrary to the expectation that children are more susceptible than adults to masking produced by inherent modulation of the noise masker. In experiment 2, odd-numbered bands were presented to both ears, with the masker diotic and the target either diotic or binaurally out of phase. The binaural difference cue was particularly beneficial for young children tested in the multi-tone masker, suggesting that development of auditory stream segregation may play a role in the child-adult difference for this condition. Overall, results provide no evidence of greater susceptibility to modulation masking in children than adults.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Acoustics and Ultrasonics