Effect of musical training on pitch discrimination performance in older normal-hearing and hearing-impaired listeners

  • Federica Bianchi Hearing Systems, Department of Electrical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark
  • Torsten Dau Hearing Systems, Department of Electrical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark
  • Sébastien Santurette Hearing Systems, Department of Electrical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark; Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery & Audiology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark


Hearing-impaired (HI) listeners, as well as elderly listeners, typically have a reduced ability to discriminate the fundamental frequency (F0) of complex tones compared to young normal-hearing (NH) listeners. Several studies have shown that musical training, on the other hand, leads to improved F0-discrimination performance for NH listeners. It is unclear whether a comparable effect of musical training occurs for listeners whose sensory encoding of F0 is degraded. To address this question, F0 discrimination was investigated for three groups of listeners (14 young NH, 9 older NH and 10 HI listeners), each including musicians and non-musicians, using complex tones that differed in harmonic content. Musical training significantly improved F0 discrimination for all groups of listeners, especially for complex tones containing low-numbered harmonics. In a second experiment, the sensitivity to temporal fine structure cues (TFS) was estimated in the same listeners. Although TFS cues were degraded for the two older groups of listeners, musicians showed better performance than non-musicians. Additionally, a significant correlation was obtained between F0-discrimination performance and sensitivity to TFS cues for complex tones with low and intermediate harmonic numbers. These findings suggest that musical training may enhance both sensory encoding of TFS cues and F0 discrimination in young and older listeners with or without hearing loss.


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How to Cite
BianchiF., DauT., & SanturetteS. (2017). Effect of musical training on pitch discrimination performance in older normal-hearing and hearing-impaired listeners. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Auditory and Audiological Research, 6, 175-182. Retrieved from https://proceedings.isaar.eu/index.php/isaarproc/article/view/2017-21
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