Psychometric functions were obtained for detection of linear frequency-modulated pure tones which were preceded by either a pure tone or a linear FM pure-tone adaptor. The results of Gardner and Wilson [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 66, 704–709 (1979)] were generally confirmed: Thresholds were larger by about a factor of 1.7 when the adaptor and test sweeps rose in frequency. This increase in threshold corresponds to a change in performance from 75% to 65% correct. As an alternative to feature-selective channels, we propose that this small effect is due to nonsensory factors, specifically, the use of an adaptor-like reference in the “adapted” condition. Performance similar to that obtained in humans is shown by an ideal receiver that uses an inappropriate reference to match the signal in the detection task.