Gap detection thresholds as a function of tonal duration for younger and older listeners

J Acoust Soc Am. 1999 Jul;106(1):371-80. doi: 10.1121/1.427062.


Twenty normal hearing younger and twenty older adults in the early stages of presbycusis, but with relatively normal hearing at 2 kHz, were asked to discriminate between the presence versus absence of a gap between two equal-duration tonal markers. The duration of each marker was constant within a block of trials but varied between 0.83 and 500 ms across blocks. Notched-noise, centered at 2 kHz, was used to mask on- and off-transients. Gap detection thresholds of older adults were markedly higher than those of younger adults for marker durations of less than 250 ms but converged on those of younger adults at 500 ms. For both age groups, gap detection thresholds were independent of audiometric thresholds. These results indicate that older adults have more difficulty detecting a gap than younger adults when short marker durations (i.e., durations characteristic of speech sounds) are employed. It is shown that these results cannot be explained by linear models of temporal processing but are consistent with differential adaptation effects in younger and older adults.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology
  • Audiometry / methods
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Speech Perception / physiology*
  • Time Factors