The detection of a tone added to a random-frequency, multitone masker can be very poor even when the maskers have little energy in the frequency region of the signal. This paper examines the effects of adding a pretrial cue to reduce uncertainty for the masker or the signal. The first two experiments examined the effect of cuing a fixed-frequency signal as the number of masker components and presentation methods were manipulated. Cue effectiveness varied across observers, but could reduce thresholds by as much as 20 dB. Procedural comparisons indicated observers benefited more from having two masker samples to compare, with or without a signal cue, than having a single interval with one masker sample and a signal cue. The third experiment used random-frequency signals and compared no-cue, signal-cue, and masker-cue conditions, and also systematically varied the time interval between cue offset and trial onset. Thresholds with a cued random-frequency signal remained higher than for a cued fixed-frequency signal. For time intervals between the cue and trial of 50 ms or longer, thresholds were approximately the same with a signal or a masker cue and lower than when there was no cue. Without a cue or with a masker cue, analyses of possible decision strategies suggested observers attended to the potential signal frequencies, particularly the highest signal frequency. With a signal cue, observers appeared to attend to the frequency of the subsequent signal.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Acoustics and Ultrasonics