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Hear Res. 2013 Sep;303:39-47. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2013.01.014. Epub 2013 Jan 29.

Effects of sensorineural hearing loss on temporal coding of narrowband and broadband signals in the auditory periphery.

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Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, Purdue University, 500 Oval Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.


People with sensorineural hearing loss have substantial difficulty understanding speech under degraded listening conditions. Behavioral studies suggest that this difficulty may be caused by changes in auditory processing of the rapidly-varying temporal fine structure (TFS) of acoustic signals. In this paper, we review the presently known effects of sensorineural hearing loss on processing of TFS and slower envelope modulations in the peripheral auditory system of mammals. Cochlear damage has relatively subtle effects on phase locking by auditory-nerve fibers to the temporal structure of narrowband signals under quiet conditions. In background noise, however, sensorineural loss does substantially reduce phase locking to the TFS of pure-tone stimuli. For auditory processing of broadband stimuli, sensorineural hearing loss has been shown to severely alter the neural representation of temporal information along the tonotopic axis of the cochlea. Notably, auditory-nerve fibers innervating the high-frequency part of the cochlea grow increasingly responsive to low-frequency TFS information and less responsive to temporal information near their characteristic frequency (CF). Cochlear damage also increases the correlation of the response to TFS across fibers of varying CF, decreases the traveling-wave delay between TFS responses of fibers with different CFs, and can increase the range of temporal modulation frequencies encoded in the periphery for broadband sounds. Weaker neural coding of temporal structure in background noise and degraded coding of broadband signals along the tonotopic axis of the cochlea are expected to contribute considerably to speech perception problems in people with sensorineural hearing loss. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled "Annual Reviews 2013".


AN; CF; ENV; FM; SPL; SR; TFS; auditory nerve; characteristic frequency; envelope; frequency modulation; sound pressure level; spontaneous rate; temporal fine structure

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