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Progress and Pitfalls Associated with Scientific Measures of Auditory Acuity

Psychophysical data concerning the functioning of the ear and auditory portions of the nervous system have been obtained using a large variety of stimuli in tasks which require that people either detect, discriminate, identify, scale, or locate sounds. The myriad measures of auditory acuity or functioning obtained in such tasks have been used to infer how well people can process auditory information.: We now know that there can be great disparities between measures obtained across seemingly similar tasks and that we must be capable of distinguishing how well people typically do perform from how well they can perform in controlled or -optimal- situations.: An effort is made to illustrate and to assess the importance of several factors that determine obtained measures of auditory acuity including individual differences, practice effects, musical training, attention, and the paradigm used to collect the data.: The purpose of the discussion is to acquaint audio engineers with a portion of a large body of knowledge that appears to be applicable and useful to those who desire to use human judgments to evaluate high-fidelity systems and components.

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