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J Acoust Soc Am. 2018 May;143(5):2994. doi: 10.1121/1.5038274.

Influence of suppression on restoration of spectral loudness summation in listeners with hearing loss.

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Center for Hearing Research, Boys Town National Research Hospital, 555 North 30th Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68131, USA.
Department of Biostatistics, College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska 68198, USA.


Loudness depends on both the intensity and spectrum of a sound. Listeners with normal hearing perceive a broadband sound as being louder than an equal-level narrowband sound because loudness grows nonlinearly with level and is then summed across frequency bands. This difference in loudness as a function of bandwidth is reduced in listeners with sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). Suppression, the reduction in the cochlear response to one sound by the simultaneous presentation of another sound, is also reduced in listeners with SNHL. Hearing-aid gain that is based on loudness measurements with pure tones may fail to restore normal loudness growth for broadband sounds. This study investigated whether hearing-aid amplification that mimics suppression can improve loudness summation for listeners with SNHL. Estimates of loudness summation were obtained using measurements of categorical loudness scaling (CLS). Stimuli were bandpass-filtered noises centered at 2 kHz with bandwidths in the range of 0.1-6.4 kHz. Gain was selected to restore normal loudness based on CLS measurements with pure tones. Gain that accounts for both compression and suppression resulted in better restoration of loudness summation, compared to compression alone. However, restoration was imperfect, suggesting that additional refinements to the signal processing and gain-prescription algorithms are needed.

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