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01.12.2014 | Research Article | Ausgabe 6/2014

Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology 6/2014

Computational Modeling of Individual Differences in Behavioral Estimates of Cochlear Nonlinearities

Zeitschrift:
Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology > Ausgabe 6/2014
Autoren:
Skyler G. Jennings, Jayne B. Ahlstrom, Judy R. Dubno

Abstract

Temporal masking curves (TMCs) are often used to estimate cochlear compression in individuals with normal and impaired hearing. These estimates may yield a wide range of individual differences, even among subjects with similar quiet thresholds. This study used an auditory model to assess potential sources of variance in TMCs from 51 listeners in Poling et al. [J Assoc Res Otolaryngol, 13:91–108 (2012)]. These sources included threshold elevation, the contribution of outer and inner hair cell dysfunction to threshold elevation, compression of the off-frequency linear reference, and detection efficiency. Simulations suggest that detection efficiency is a primary factor contributing to individual differences in TMCs measured in normal-hearing subjects, while threshold elevation and the contribution of outer and inner hair cell dysfunction are primary factors in hearing-impaired subjects. Approximating the most compressive growth rate of the cochlear response from TMCs was achieved only in subjects with the highest detection efficiency. Simulations included off-frequency nonlinearity in basilar membrane and inner hair cell processing; however, this nonlinearity did not improve predictions, suggesting that other sources, such as the decay of masking and the strength of the medial olivocochlear reflex, may mimic off-frequency nonlinearity. Findings from this study suggest that sources of individual differences can play a strong role in behavioral estimates of compression, and these sources should be considered when using forward masking to study cochlear function in individual listeners or across groups of listeners.

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