Reaction Time to 1- and 4-kHz Tones as a Function of Sensation Level in Listeners with Normal Hearing

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Measures of reaction time (RT) near threshold have been used to indicate whether listeners with hearing losses of primarily cochlear origin experience greater loudness at elevated thresholds than at normal thresholds. These measurements have been based on the assumption that RTs near threshold are not affected by stimulus frequency in the 1- to 4-kHz range. The present study tests this hypothesis.


To gain an understanding of how RT is affected by frequency, RTs to 1- and 4-kHz tones were measured in 16 listeners with normal hearing across a wide range of sensation levels (SLs).


Statistical analyses indicate that RTs are affected by frequency in some listeners. This effect is most common at low SLs but is also present at higher SLs. Learning effects could not account for the observed differences between RTs at the two frequencies.


Although reaction time—especially at low levels—is affected by stimulus frequency in some listeners, the effect is not large enough to account for the differences in RTs measured in all listeners with impaired hearing in other studies.

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