Temporal decline of masking and comodulation masking release

D. McFadden*, B. A. Wright

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Masking sounds can be continuously present, gated simultaneously with the signal, or gated somewhat prior to the signal. This continuum of relative onset times was explored using waveforms of the sort commonly employed in studies of comodulation masking release (CMR). There was a 50-Hz masker band centered on the 1250-Hz tonal signal, and four 50-Hz flanker bands centered at 850, 1050, 1450, and 1650 Hz. In some conditions, all four flanker bands had the same temporal envelope, and the masker band either had that same envelope (correlated presentations) or a different envelope (uncorrelated presentations). In other conditions, all five bands had different temporal envelopes (all-uncorrelated presentations). The masker band and/or the four flanker bands were either gated nearly simultaneously with the signal (burst conditions) or were gated prior to the signal by a duration that was systematically varied (fringed conditions). The eight listeners could be partitioned into three groups on the basis of their response to these fringing manipulations. Two listeners (the large fringers) showed a gradual improvement in detectability with increasing fringe duration (called a temporal decline of masking), while three others (the small fringers) showed little improvement in detectability. For the remaining three subjects, there was evidence of a 'learning' effect that changed them from large fringers to small fringers over a 10-week period of listening. When present, the temporal decline of masking was greater for the correlated than for the uncorrelated comodulation condition; as a consequence, the difference in detectability between them (the comodulation masking release or CMR) increased with fringe duration. By fringing the masker and flanker bands separately and in combination, it was revealed that the temporal declines of masking were primarily attributable to the fringing of the flanker bands. In contrast, large CMRs required long fringes on both the masker and flanker bands. The above results were obtained with 50-ms signals, but generally similar data were obtained with a signal duration of 240 ms. The difficulties raised for experimentalists and theorists by such long-term practice effects are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-156
Number of pages13
Journaljournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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