The objective of the study was to examine developmental effects for perceptual masking due a two-talker masker. Both continuous and gated maskers were employed in order to determine the importance of masker continuity for perceptual masking.
A repeated measures design compared the spondee recognition performance of adults and children using both a speech-shaped noise and a two-talker masker. The masker was either presented continuously, or was gated on and off at about the same time as the target spondee. The ages of the listeners were 19 to 48 yr (adults) and 5 to 10 yr (children).
The results for the continuous masker indicated higher thresholds for the two-talker masker than for the speech-shaped noise masker. This effect was greater in the children than in the adults. In the gated masking condition, the greater masking effect associated with the two-talker masker was either diminished (children) or eliminated (adults).
These results suggest a masking effect for two-talker speech competition that is greater in children than in adults. Perceptual masking is greater for continuous than for gated masking.