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Asymmetry of masking between complex tones and noise: Partial loudness
GOCKEL, H., Moore, B.C.J. & Patterson, R.D.
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 114(2), 349-360
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This experiment examined the partial masking of periodic complex tones by a background of noise, and vice versa. The tones had a fundamental frequency (F0) of 62.5 or 250 Hz, and components were added in either cosine phase (CPH) or random phase (RPH). The tones and the noise were bandpass filtered into the same frequency region, from the 10th harmonic up to 5 kHz. The target alone was alternated with the target and the background; for the mixture, the background and target were either gated together, or the background was turned on 400 ms before, and off 200 ms after, the target. Subjects had to adjust the level of either the target alone or the target in the background so as to match the loudness of the target in the two intervals. The overall level of the background was 50 dB SPL, and loudness matches were obtained for several fixed levels of the target alone or in the background. The resulting loudness-matching functions showed clear asymmetry of partial masking. For a given target-to-background ratio, the partial loudness of a complex tone in a noise background was lower than the partial loudness of a noise in a complex tone background. Expressed as the target-to-background ratio required to achieve a given loudness, the asymmetry typically amounted to 12-16 dB. When the F0 of the complex tone was 62.5 Hz, the asymmetry of partial masking was greater for CPH than for RPH. When the F0 was 250 Hz, the asymmetry was greater for RPH than for CPH. Masked thresholds showed the same pattern as for partial masking for both F0s. Onset asynchrony had some effect on the loudness matching data when the target was just above its masked threshold, but did not significantly affect the level at which the target in the background reached its unmasked loudness. The results are interpreted in terms of the temporal structure of the stimuli.