Gap detection and the precedence effect in young and old adults

J Acoust Soc Am. 1994 Feb;95(2):980-91. doi: 10.1121/1.408403.


Thresholds for detecting a gap between two Gaussian-enveloped (standard deviation = 0.5 ms), 2-kHz tones were determined in young and old listeners. The gap-detection thresholds of old adults were more variable and about twice as large as those obtained from young adults. Moreover, gap-detection thresholds were not correlated with audiometric thresholds in either group. Estimates of the width of the temporal window of young subjects, based on the detection of a gap between two tone pips, were smaller than those typically obtained when a relatively long duration pure tone is interrupted [Moore et al., J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 85, 1266-1275 (1989)]. Because the amount of time it takes to recover from an adapting stimulus is likely to affect gap detection thresholds [Glasberg et al., J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 81, 1546-1556 (1987)], smaller estimates of temporal window size would be expected in this paradigm if the amount of adaptation produced by the first tone pip was negligible. The larger gap-detection thresholds of old subjects indicate that they may have larger temporal windows than young subjects. The lack of correlation between audiometric and gap-detection thresholds indicates that this loss of temporal acuity is not related to the degree of sensorineural hearing loss. In a second experiment on the precedence effect using the same subjects, a Gaussian-enveloped tone was presented over earphones to the left ear followed by the same tone pip presented to the right ear. To more realistically approximate a sound field situation, the tone pip presented to each ear was followed 0.6 ms later by an attenuated version presented to the contralateral ear. The delay between the left- and right-ear tone-pips was varied and the transition point between hearing a single tone on the left, and hearing two such sounds in close succession (one coming from the left and the other from the right) was determined. The transition point in this experiment did not differ between young and old subjects nor were these transition points correlated with gap-detection thresholds. These results indicate that monaural temporal acuity and binaural echo suppression may be based on different processes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Noise
  • Perceptual Masking