Effect of inter-aural modulation depth difference on interaural time difference thresholds for speech: An observational study

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Background: The temporal envelope (ENV) plays a vital role in conveying inter-aural time difference (ITD) in many clinical populations. However, the presence of background noise and electronic features, such as compression, reduces the modulation depth of ENV to a different degree in both ears. The effect of ENV modulation depth differences between the ears on ITD thresholds is unknown; therefore, this was the aim of the current study's investigation. Methods: Six normally hearing young adults (age range 20-30 years) participated in the current study. Six vowel-consonant-vowel (VCV) (/aka/, /aga/, /apa/, /aba/, /ata/, /ada/) tokens were used as the probe stimuli. ENV depth of VCV tokens was smeared by 0%, 29%, and 50%, which results in 100%, 71%, and 50% of the original modulation depth. ITD thresholds were estimated as a function of the difference in temporal ENV depth between the ears, wherein in one ear the modulation depth was retained at 100% and in the other ear, the modulation depth was changed to 100%, 71%, and 50%. Results: Repeated measures of ANOVA revealed a significant main effect of interaural modulation depth differences on the ITD threshold (F(2,10)= 9.04, p= 0.006). ITD thresholds increased with an increase in the inter-aural modulation depth difference. Conclusion: Inter-aural ENV depth is critical for ITD perception.



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