Informational masking for multicomponent maskers with spectral gaps

J Acoust Soc Am. 1993 Dec;94(6):3112-26. doi: 10.1121/1.407217.


Simultaneous maskers comprised of a few random-frequency sinusoids can produce considerable informational (uncertainty-based) masking if the component frequencies are drawn from a wide range and changed with each stimulus presentation. The present experiments examined the effect on informational masking of removing masker energy from large frequency regions around the signal. Threshold for a 1000-Hz signal was measured in the presence of maskers comprised of 2, 4, 6, 10, 50, or 100 random-frequency sinusoids, notched-noise, or two fixed-frequency sinusoids. The multicomponent maskers had a maximum frequency range of 300-3000 Hz, typically excluding a 160-Hz band around the signal. In comparison conditions, masker frequencies were limited to the high or low side of the signal, or the gap around the signal was progressively widened. Four listeners showed substantial informational masking which was not eliminated even by extreme spectral gaps in the maskers. Four other listeners showed much smaller effects of masker uncertainty across all conditions. Notched-noise measures of auditory-filter width did not distinguish the two subject groups, but indices of processing efficiency were typically poorer for the high-threshold listeners, as were measures of both the width and processing efficiency of presumed "attentional filters" under conditions of masker-frequency uncertainty.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Auditory Perception
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Noise
  • Perceptual Masking*
  • Task Performance and Analysis