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A review of the perceptual effects of hearing loss for frequencies above 3 kHz.

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Moore, Brian CJ 


BACKGROUND: Hearing loss caused by exposure to intense sounds usually has its greatest effects on audiometric thresholds at 4 and 6 kHz. However, in several countries compensation for occupational noise-induced hearing loss is calculated using the average of audiometric thresholds for selected frequencies up to 3 kHz, based on the implicit assumption that hearing loss for frequencies above 3 kHz has no material adverse consequences. This paper assesses whether this assumption is correct. DESIGN: Studies are reviewed that evaluate the role of hearing for frequencies above 3 kHz. RESULTS: Several studies show that frequencies above 3 kHz are important for the perception of speech, especially when background sounds are present. Hearing at high frequencies is also important for sound localization, especially for resolving front-back confusions. CONCLUSIONS: Hearing for frequencies above 3 kHz is important for the ability to understand speech in background sounds and for the ability to localize sounds. The audiometric threshold at 4 kHz and perhaps 6 kHz should be taken into account when assessing hearing in a medico-legal context.



Hearing loss, high frequencies, noise exposure, sound localization, speech perception, Audiometry, Pure-Tone, Auditory Threshold, Hearing, Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced, Humans, Noise, Occupational, Occupational Diseases, Severity of Illness Index, Speech Perception

Journal Title

Int J Audiol

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Informa UK Limited
Medical Research Council (G0701870)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/M026957/1)
Medical Research Council (G8717539)
The work of the author is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (UK, grant number RG78536).