Auditory intensity discrimination at high frequencies in the presence of noise

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Science  16 Sep 1983:
Vol. 221, Issue 4616, pp. 1206-1208
DOI: 10.1126/science.6612337


Over a wide range of intensities, subjects were able to detect small differences in the intensity of a high-frequency band of noise that was presented with a relatively intense, complementary band-reject noise. This indicates that neither of two possible mechanisms for peripheral intensity coding, those based on timing and on spread of excitation, is necessary for the large dynamic range of human hearing. It is shown that the information available in the firing rate of a small number of nerve fibers can account for these data.