Effect of target-masker similarity on across-ear interference in a dichotic cocktail-party listening task

Douglas S. Brungart*, Brian D. Simpson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Similarity between the target and masking voices is known to have a strong influence on performance in monaural and binaural selective attention tasks, but little is known about the role it might play in dichotic listening tasks with a target signal and one masking voice in the one ear and a second independent masking voice in the opposite ear. This experiment examined performance in a dichotic listening task with a target talker in one ear and same-talker, same-sex, or different-sex maskers in both the target and the unattended ears. The results indicate that listeners were most susceptible to across-ear interference with a different-sex within-ear masker and least susceptible with a same-talker within-ear masker, suggesting that the amount of across-ear interference cannot be predicted from the difficulty of selectively attending to the within-ear masking voice. The results also show that the amount of across-ear interference consistently increases when the across-ear masking voice is more similar to the target speech than the within-ear masking voice is, but that no corresponding decline in across-ear interference occurs when the across-ear voice is less similar to the target than the within-ear voice. These results are consistent with an "integrated strategy" model of speech perception where the listener chooses a segregation strategy based on the characteristics of the masker present in the target ear and the amount of across-ear interference is determined by the extent to which this strategy can also effectively be used to suppress the masker in the unattended ear.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1724-1734
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


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