The ability to hear a target signal over background noise is an important aspect of efficient hearing in everyday situations. This mechanism depends on binaural hearing whenever there are differences in the inter-aural timing of inputs from the noise and the signal. Impairments in binaural hearing may underlie some auditory processing disorders, for example temporal-lobe epilepsies. The binaural masking level difference (BMLD) measures the advantage in detecting a tone whose inter-aural phase differs from that of the masking noise. BMLD’s are typically estimated psychophysically, but this is challenging in children or those with cognitive impairments. The aim of this doctorate is to design a passive measure of BMLD using magnetoencephalography (MEG) and test this in adults, children and patients with different types of epilepsy. The stimulus consists of Gaussian background noise with 500-Hz tones presented binaurally either in-phase or 180° out-of-phase between the ears. Source modelling provides the N1m amplitude for the in-phase and out-of-phase tones, representing the extent of signal perception over background noise. The passive BMLD stimulus is successfully used as a measure of binaural hearing capabilities in participants who would otherwise be unable to undertake a psychophysical task.
- binaural unmasking
- auditory development