Effects of the build-up and resetting of auditory stream segregation on temporal discrimination

Brian Roberts, Brian R. Glasberg, Brian C. J. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The tendency to hear a tone sequence as 2 or more streams (segregated) builds up, but a sudden change in properties can reset the percept to 1 stream (integrated). This effect has not hitherto been explored using an objective measure of streaming. Stimuli comprised a 2.0-s fixed-frequency inducer followed by a 0.6-s test sequence of alternating pure tones (3 low [L]-high [H] cycles). Listeners compared intervals for which the test sequence was either isochronous or the H tones were slightly delayed. Resetting of segregation should make identifying the anisochronous interval easier. The HL frequency separation was varied (0-12 semitones), and properties of the inducer and test sequence were set to the same or different values. Inducer properties manipulated were frequency, number of onsets (several short bursts vs. one continuous tone), tone:silence ratio (short vs. extended bursts), level, and lateralization. All differences between the inducer and the L tones reduced temporal discrimination thresholds toward those for the no-inducer case, including properties shown previously not to affect segregation greatly. Overall, it is concluded that abrupt changes in a sequence cause resetting and improve subsequent temporal discrimination. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2009 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)992-1006
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology : Human Perception and Performance Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008


  • auditory grouping
  • stream segregation
  • perceptual organization
  • temporal discrimination


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