Perception of across-frequency asynchrony and the role of cochlear delays

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Abstract

Cochlear filtering results in earlier responses to high than to low frequencies. This study examined potential perceptual correlates of cochlear delays by measuring the perception of relative timing between tones of different frequencies. A brief 250-Hz tone was combined with a brief 1-, 2-, 4-, or 6-kHz tone. Two experiments were performed, one involving subjective judgments of perceived synchrony, the other involving asynchrony detection and discrimination. The functions relating the proportion of synchronous responses to the delay between the tones were similar for all tone pairs. Perceived synchrony was maximal when the tones in a pair were gated synchronously. The perceived-synchrony function slopes were asymmetric, being steeper on the low-frequency-leading side. In the second experiment, asynchrony-detection thresholds were lower for low-frequency rather than for high-frequency leading pairs. In contrast with previous studies, but consistent with the first experiment, thresholds did not depend on frequency separation between the tones, perhaps because of the elimination of within-channel cues. The results of the two experiments were related quantitatively using a decision-theoretic model, and were found to be highly correlated. Overall the results suggest that frequency-dependent cochlear group delays are compensated for at higher processing stages, resulting in veridical perception of timing relationships across frequency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-377
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Volume131
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

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