Article  |   April 2012
Informational Masking and Spatial Hearing in Listeners With and Without Unilateral Hearing Loss
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ann M. Rothpletz
    University of Louisville, Kentucky
  • Frederic L. Wightman
    University of Louisville, Kentucky
  • Doris J. Kistler
    University of Louisville, Kentucky
  • Correspondence to Ann M. Rothpletz: ann.rothpletz@louisville.edu
  • Editor: Robert Schlauch
    Editor: Robert Schlauch×
  • Associate Editor: Beverly Wright
    Associate Editor: Beverly Wright×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Hearing
Article   |   April 2012
Informational Masking and Spatial Hearing in Listeners With and Without Unilateral Hearing Loss
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2012, Vol. 55, 511-531. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0205)
History: Received July 26, 2010 , Revised January 13, 2011 , Accepted August 17, 2011
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2012, Vol. 55, 511-531. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0205)
History: Received July 26, 2010; Revised January 13, 2011; Accepted August 17, 2011
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

Purpose: This study assessed selective listening for speech in individuals with and without unilateral hearing loss (UHL) and the potential relationship between spatial release from informational masking and localization ability in listeners with UHL.

Method: Twelve adults with UHL and 12 normal-hearing controls completed a series of monaural and binaural speech tasks that were designed to measure informational masking. They also completed a horizontal localization task.

Results: Monaural performance by participants with UHL was comparable to that of normal-hearing participants. Unlike the normal-hearing participants, the participants with UHL did not exhibit a true spatial release from informational masking. Rather, their performance could be predicted by head shadow effects. Performance among participants with UHL in the localization task was quite variable, with some showing near-normal abilities and others demonstrating no localization ability.

Conclusion: Individuals with UHL did not show deficits in all listening situations but were at a significant disadvantage when listening to speech in environments where normal-hearing listeners benefit from spatial separation between target and masker. This inability to capitalize on spatial cues for selective listening does not appear to be related to localization ability.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant RO1-HD023333 to Frederic L. Wightman, principal investigator. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Crystal Williamson with data collection and of Arun Gadre and Angie Buckingham with participant recruitment. Carissa Shafto and Derek Knisely kindly offered editorial feedback on earlier versions of this article. We would also like to thank the participants in this project for their time and involvement.
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