Temporal integration and multiple looks

Neal F Viemeister, Gregory H. Wakefield

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282 Scopus citations


The decrease in detection and discrimination thresholds with increases in signal duration has often been taken to indicate that a process of relatively long-term temporal integration occurs in hearing. Two experiments are reported that suggest that no such process occurs. The first experiment is similar to the two-pulse experiment reported by Zwislocki [J. Zwislocki, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 32, 1046–1059 (1960)] in which the threshold in quiet for a pair of brief pulses is measured as a function of the temporal separation between them. Our data indicate that power integration occurs only for separations less than approximately 5 ms. For separations larger than 5–10 ms, thresholds do not change with separation and the pulses appear to be processed independently. In the second experiment, brief 1-kHz tone pulses separated by 100 ms are presented during gaps in a wideband noise. The threshold for a pair of pulses is lower than that for either pulse presented alone, indicating that some type of “integration” occurs. However, the threshold for the pulse pair is not affected by changes in the level of the noise during the interval between the pulses. These data are inconsistent with the classical view of temporal integration that involves long-term integration. They are consistent with the notion that the input is sampled at a fairly high rate and that these samples or “looks” are stored in memory and can be accessed and processed selectively. This multiple-look model can account for the data from the present experiment and also can account for the data on temporal integration for tones and noise. The model provides a framework for describing resolution-related phenomena, such as gap detection, without resorting to multiple time constants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)858-865
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1991

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