Effects of Cueing in Auditory Temporal Masking Purpose In a landmark study, B. A. Wright et al. (1997)  reported an apparent backward-masking deficit in language-learning-impaired children. Subsequently, the controversial interpretation of those results has been influential in guiding treatments for childhood language problems. This study revisited the temporal-masking paradigm reported by B. A. Wright et al. to ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2007
Effects of Cueing in Auditory Temporal Masking
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ting Zhang
    School of Medicine and Graduate School,University of Maryland, Baltimore, and University of Maryland, College Park
  • Craig Formby
    School of Medicine and Graduate School,University of Maryland, Baltimore
  • Contact author: Craig Formby, who is now with the Department of Communicative Disorders, P.O. Box 870242, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0242. E-mail: cformby@as.ua.edu.
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2007
Effects of Cueing in Auditory Temporal Masking
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2007, Vol. 50, 564-575. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/039)
History: Received October 3, 2005 , Revised March 15, 2006 , Accepted October 18, 2006
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2007, Vol. 50, 564-575. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/039)
History: Received October 3, 2005; Revised March 15, 2006; Accepted October 18, 2006

Purpose In a landmark study, B. A. Wright et al. (1997)  reported an apparent backward-masking deficit in language-learning-impaired children. Subsequently, the controversial interpretation of those results has been influential in guiding treatments for childhood language problems. This study revisited the temporal-masking paradigm reported by B. A. Wright et al. to evaluate adult listener signal/masker uncertainty effects for some of their key stimulus conditions. New signal conditions presented off frequency from the masker also were evaluated to assess conditions of reduced signal/masker confusion.

Method Masked detection was measured for 20-ms sinusoids (480, 1000, or 1680 Hz) presented at temporal positions before, during, or after a gated narrowband (bandwidth = 600–1400 Hz) masker. Listener uncertainty was investigated by cueing various stimulus temporal properties with a 6000-Hz sinusoid presented contralateral to the test ear.

Results The primary cueing effect was measured in the backward-masking condition for the cue gated simultaneously with the on-frequency 1000-Hz signal. The resulting cued masked-detection threshold was reduced to quiet threshold. No significant cueing effects were obtained for other signal temporal positions in the masker or for any off-frequency signal conditions.

Conclusions These results for normal adult listeners indicate that on-frequency backward masking can be eliminated by cueing the signal, and thus, these findings raise the possibility that the deficit reported by B. A. Wright et al. for language-learning-impaired children may reflect inordinate signal/masker confusion, rather than a temporal-processing deficit per se.

Acknowledgments
Support for this research was provided by Grant K24DC00183 from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders to Craig Formby and by a graduate research assistantship award from the Graduate School of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, to Craig Formby for support of Ting Zhang. Portions of this work were included in a presentation titled “Uncertainty and Confusion in Temporal Masking” at the 147th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, New York, New York, on May 28, 2004. We gratefully acknowledge editorial assistance from Chinetta Pettaway-Willis and technical aid from Mike Heinz.
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