Frequency modulation detection: effects of age, psychophysical method, and modulation waveform

J Acoust Soc Am. 2007 Jul;122(1):467-77. doi: 10.1121/1.2741208.


As part of an ongoing study of auditory aging, detection of sinusoidal and quasitrapezoidal frequency modulation (FM) was measured with a 5-Hz modulation frequency and 500- and 4000-Hz carriers in two experiments. In Experiment 1, psychometric functions for FM detection were measured with several modulation waveform time patterns in younger adults with normal hearing. Detection of a three-cycle modulated signal improved when its duration was extended by a preceding unmodulated cycle, an effect similar to adding a modulated cycle. In Experiment 2, FM detection was measured for younger and older adults with normal hearing using two psychophysical methods. Similar to frequency discrimination, FM detection was poorer in older than younger subjects and age-related differences were larger at 500 Hz than at 4000 Hz, suggesting that FM detection with low modulation frequencies and frequency discrimination may share common underlying mechanisms. One mechanism is likely related to temporal information coded by neural phase locking which is strong at low frequencies and decreases with increasing frequency, as observed in animals. The frequency-dependent aging effect suggests that this temporal mechanism may be affected by age. The effect of psychophysical method was sizable and frequency dependent, whereas the effect of modulation waveform was minimal.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Humans
  • Pitch Perception
  • Psychoacoustics*
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Time Factors