Perceptual asymmetry induced by the auditory continuity illusion

Dorea R. Ruggles, Andrew J. Oxenham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The challenges of daily communication require listeners to integrate both independent and complementary auditory information to form holistic auditory scenes. As part of this process listeners are thought to fill in missing information to create continuous perceptual streams, even when parts of messages are masked or obscured. One example of this filling-in process-the auditory continuity illusion-has been studied primarily using stimuli presented in isolation, leaving it unclear whether the illusion occurs in more complex situations with higher perceptual and attentional demands. In this study, young normal-hearing participants listened for long target tones, either real or illusory, in "clouds" of shorter masking tone and noise bursts with pseudorandom spectrotemporal locations. Patterns of detection suggest that illusory targets are salient within mixtures, although they do not produce the same level of performance as the real targets. The results suggest that the continuity illusion occurs in the presence of competing sounds and can be used to aid in the detection of partially obscured objects within complex auditory scenes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)908-914
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Auditory object
  • Continuity illusion
  • Perceptual asymmetry
  • Perceptual search


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