Author(s): Buus S, Florentine M
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Abstract This article examines how loudness grows with increasing intensity near threshold in five listeners with hearing losses of predominantly cochlear origin. It provides evidence against the pervasive and long-held notion that such listeners show abnormally rapid loudness growth near their elevated thresholds. As in a previous study for listeners with normal hearing, loudness functions near threshold were derived from loudness matches between a pure tone and four- or ten-tone complexes using a simple model of loudness summation. This study assumed that the loudness function had the same form for any component of a complex, but a scale factor that depended on the amount of hearing loss allowed the loudness at threshold to vary with frequency. The best-fitting loudness functions had low-level local exponents [i.e., slopes of the low-level loudness function plotted as log(loudness) versus log(intensity)] that were within the normal range. At 0 dB SL, the average local exponents were 1.26 for the listeners with hearing losses compared with 1.31 for normal listeners, which indicates that loudness near threshold grows at similar rates in normal listeners and listeners with hearing losses. The model also indicated that, on average, the loudness at threshold doubled for every 16 dB of hearing loss. The increased loudness at threshold, together with somewhat enlarged local exponents around 20 dB SL, accounts for the near-normal loudness often obtained for high-SPL tones in listeners with hearing losses. Such loudness functions are consistent with the steep functions shown by classical data on loudness matches between tones for which thresholds are normal and tones for which thresholds are elevated. Thus, the present data indicate that an abnormally large loudness at an elevated threshold is likely to be a better definition of recruitment than the classical definition of it as an abnormally rapid growth of loudness above an elevated threshold.
This article was published in J Assoc Res Otolaryngol
and referenced in Advances in Robotics & Automation