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AP in wolf's clothing


Do you really think this is the same thing as AP in humans? I haven't read
the paper you cite, and I'm prepared to keep an open mind, but I'll bet
wolves use lots of cues, including time-varying spectral cues (formants),
etc. Of course, most animals, us included, have a reasonable ability to
respond in an absolute manner to frequency (see the old generalization
gradients that behaviorists determined with conditioning paradigms with
rats, for instance). But it's a far cry from AP, which means being able to
respond with a unique label to upwards of 50 or 60 subdivisions of a
frequency continuum (devoid of other cues), rapidly and with minimal
errors. Unless wolves have been shown to do this in a rigorous fashion, I'd
be wary of interpreting it as a similar phenomenon to AP.

And while we're at clarifications, I thought I'd raise the question of
color. When I was taught about categorical perception, the key distinction
was that discrimination was completely limited (or nearly so) by
identification. That was the original Haskins formulation. Now unless my
understanding of color psychophysics is way out of line, color
discrimination is much much finer than color category labelling. Just what
you'd expect for noncategorical continua. In fact, I use to use that
example for my students to explain how color perception is NOT categorical:
when you get that purple paint back home from the store, you find it
doesn't match at all the purple on your wall!



At 14:40 29/10/98 -0800, you wrote:
>>Do canines exhibit AP? Possibly not, unless the stimuli were played
>>through woofers.
>Just to set the record straight (and prevent anyone from barking up the
>wrong tree), canines do have AP.  Wolves in the wild use the absolute pitch
>of the fundamental frequency of a wolf call to identify whether the howler
>is friend or foe, known or unknown.
>See Tooze, et al, (1990).  Individually distinct vocalizations in timber
>wolves, canis lupus.  Animal Behavior, 40, 723-730.
>Daniel J. Levitin, M.Sc., Ph.D. Phone: (650) 723-4971
>CCRMA/Dept. of Music    FAX:  (650) 723-8468
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>Stanford, CA  94305
>Visiting Scholar, Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics
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Montreal Neurological Institute
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