Effect of signal-temporal uncertainty in children and adults: Tone detection in noise or a random-frequency masker

Angela Yarnell Bonino, Lori J. Leibold, Emily Buss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


A cue indicating when in time to listen can improve adults' tone detection thresholds, particularly for conditions that produce substantial informational masking. The purpose of this study was to determine if 5- to 13-yr-old children likewise benefit from a light cue indicating when in time to listen for a masked pure-tone signal. Each listener was tested in one of two continuous maskers: Broadband noise (low informational masking) or a random-frequency, two-tone masker (high informational masking). Using a single-interval method of constant stimuli, detection thresholds were measured for two temporal conditions: (1) Temporally-defined, with the listening interval defined by a light cue, and (2) temporally-uncertain, with no light cue. Thresholds estimated from psychometric functions fitted to the data indicated that children and adults benefited to the same degree from the visual cue. Across listeners, the average benefit of a defined listening interval was 1.8 dB in the broadband noise and 8.6 dB in the random-frequency, two-tone masker. Thus, the benefit of knowing when in time to listen was more robust for conditions believed to be dominated by informational masking. An unexpected finding of this study was that children's thresholds were comparable to adults' in the random-frequency, two-tone masker.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4446-4457
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2013


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics

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