Discrimination of complex sound signals in noise was investigated in normal listeners. Rippled-spectrum signals were
used as a version of complex sound signals. The rippled spectrum was 0.5 oct wide centered at 2 kHz; the ripples were
frequency proportional. Discrimination of these signals were measured using two paradigms: (i) Measurement of threshold
for discrimination of ripple spacing using a phase reversal test and (ii) Measurement of threshold for discrimination of
spectrum-pattern shift using a ripple shift test. The noise was 0.5 oct wide centered below, on, or above the signal
band (low-, on-, and high-frequency noise, respectively). Both the low-frequency and on-frequency noises increased the
thresholds for both ripple-spacing and for ripple shift discrimination. However, the threshold dependence on the noise
level was qualitatively different for the lowand on-frequency noises. For the on-frequency noise, the effect primarily
depended on the noise/signal ratio. Alternatively, for the low-frequency noise, the effect primarily depended on the
noise SPL. The high-frequency masker produced little effect. The data were successfully simulated using an excitation-
pattern model. According to this model, the effect of the onfrequency noise appeared due to a decrease of ripple depth
when the noise overlapped the signal, thus depending mostly on the noise/signal ratio. The effect of the low-frequency
noise appeared due to widening of the auditory lters at high sound levels, thus depending mostly on the noise SPL.
hearing, rippled spectra, noise
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