Grouping and the pitch of a mistuned fundamental component: effects of applying simultaneous multiple mistunings to the other harmonics

Brian Roberts*, Stephen D. Holmes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Mistuning a harmonic produces an exaggerated change in its pitch. This occurs because the component becomes inconsistent with the regular pattern that causes the other harmonics (constituting the spectral frame) to integrate perceptually. These pitch shifts were measured when the fundamental (F0) component of a complex tone (nominal F0 frequency = 200 Hz) was mistuned by +8% and -8%. The pitch-shift gradient was defined as the difference between these values and its magnitude was used as a measure of frame integration. An independent and random perturbation (spectral jitter) was applied simultaneously to most or all of the frame components. The gradient magnitude declined gradually as the degree of jitter increased from 0% to ±40% of F0. The component adjacent to the mistuned target made the largest contribution to the gradient, but more distant components also contributed. The stimuli were passed through an auditory model, and the exponential height of the F0-period peak in the averaged summary autocorrelation function correlated well with the gradient magnitude. The fit improved when the weighting on more distant channels was attenuated by a factor of three per octave. The results are consistent with a grouping mechanism that computes a weighted average of periodicity strength across several components. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-88
Number of pages10
JournalHearing Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006



  • auditory grouping
  • harmonic relations
  • mistuning
  • pitch shifts

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