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Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2003 Oct;129(10):1056-62.

The effect of otitis media with effusion on perceptual masking.

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Department of Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 27599, USA.



To determine the effect of otitis media with effusion (OME) on perceptual masking (a phenomenon in which spondee threshold for a 2-talker masker is poorer than for a speech-shaped noise masker).


Longitudinal testing over a 1-year period following insertion of tympanostomy tubes, using clinical and normal-hearing control groups.


Forty-seven children having a history of OME were tested. Possible testing intervals were just before the placement of tympanostomy tubes, and up to 3 separate occasions after the placement of the tubes. An age-matched control group of 19 children was tested.


A perceptual masking paradigm was used to measure the ability of the listener to recognize a spondee in either a speech-shaped noise or a 2-talker masker background. The masker was either continuous or gated on and off with the target spondee.


In gated masking conditions, children with a history of normal hearing showed only slight perceptual masking, but the children with a history of OME showed relatively great perceptual masking before surgery and up to 6 months following surgery. In continuous masking conditions, both groups of children showed relatively great perceptual masking and did not differ significantly from each other in this respect either before or after surgery. However, before surgery, the OME group showed higher thresholds in both the 2-talker and speech-shaped noise maskers.


In agreement with previous psychoacoustical findings, the relatively great perceptual masking in gated conditions shown by children with OME history may reflect a general deficit in complex auditory processing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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