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periodicity digest

Here are the replies to my question about periodicity (remember?....). I am very sorry about the delay!
Also, I am very grateful for the response!

Odd Torleiv Furnes
Department of Musicology
University of Oslo
The question:
Could anyone recommend litterature/research about the cognitive "measurement of time"?
- Are there any unambiguous findings that proclaim an abstract sub-division of time in order to predict the temporal placement of an upcoming event? In other words, are there indications of a subconscious metrical grid that any sound event is analyzed by?

And the replies:


Richard Feynman and john Tukey got interested in perceptual time and did a bunch
of experiments on it. I is written up in one of his many books.  If you are interested,
it is in "The pleasure of finding things out", Perseus Publishing, Helix Books, Ch. 11

Jont B. Allen
AT&T Labs-Research, Shannon Laboratory, E161
180 Park Ave., Florham Park NJ, 07932-0971
973/360-8545voice, x7111fax, http://www.research.att.com/~jba


You should check the extensive literature on perceptual experiments and
modeling of time-keeping, rhythm and meter production and perception.
Important authors in the musical domain include Paul Fraisse, Jean
Michon, Mari Jones, Carolyn Drake, Carolyn Palmer, Eric Clarke, Neil
Todd, Ed Large, Peter Desain, Henkjan Honing, Devin McAuley, Dirk Povel
among many others. Several special issues of peer-reviewed journals have
come out of the Rhythm Perception and Production workshop series.

Stephen McAdams
Equipe Perception et Cognition Musicales
Ircam-CNRS (UMR 9912)
1 place Igor-Stravinsky
F-75004 Paris, France
tel: +33.1.4478.4838, fax +33.1.4478.1540


Whether or not a temporal interval is cognitively subdivided depends very much on a listener's strategy and on preceding context. A metrical grid needs to be induced by context or deliberately created; it does not usually arise automatically. I suggest you look at the many papers by Mari Riess Jones, starting with 

Barnes, R., & Jones, M. R. (2000). Expectancy, attention, and time. Cognitive Psychology, 41, 254-311. 


Large, E. W., & Jones, M. R. (1999). The dynamics of attending: How we track time-varying events. Psychological Review, 106, 119-159.

where you will find references to earlier papers. Also relevant is 

Desain, P. (1992). A (de)composable theory of rhythm perception. Music Perception, 9, 439-454.

A researcher who has been specifically concerned with mental subdivision is Simon Grondin. See

Grondin, S., Meilleur-Wells, G., & Lachance, R. (1999). When to start explicit counting in a time-intervals discrimination task: A critical point in the timing process of humans. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 25, 993-1004.

and earlier references cited therein. The variability of time interval perception or production is a good indicator of whether or not cognitive subdivision occurred.

A classic reference on beat ("clock") induction is

Povel, D.-J., & Essens, P. (1985). Perception of temporal patterns. Music Perception, 2, 411-440.

I am myself interested in this topic and am currently conducting research relevant to it, but nothing is written up yet.


Bruno H. Repp
Research Scientist
Haskins Laboratories
270 Crown Street
New Haven, CT 06511-6695
Tel. (203) 865-6163, ext. 236
FAX (203) 865-8963
e-mail: repp@tom.haskins.yale.edu 


You might glance at two recent papers:
Large & Jones (1999) Psychological Review, volume 106, pg 116 -159.
Barnes & Jones (2000) Cognitive Psychology (recent issue).


Mari Riess Jones
Department of Psychology
142 Townshend Hall
The Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio 43210
Phone: 614-292-4206
Fax: 614-292-5601
email: jones.80@osu.edu
lab web site: http://www.psy.ohio-state.edu/roar


Dear Dr. Furnes,

I am intrigued by your question since I am working on an animal model 
where time of analyzing a particular input may be of importance.
The pallid bat uses 2-6 msec high-frequency (30-60 kHz) echolocation to 
avoid obstacles.  It uses passive hearing of 5-10 msec low-frequency (5-30
kHz) prey-generated noise to localize terrestrial prey.  If it is not 
possible to process 2 streams of acoustic information simultaneously, an
alternative hypothesis is that the bat switches rapidly between processing
one or the other sound.  In that case, it is likely that some temporal
mechanism is in place to facilitate this process.

Khaleel A. Razak
Neuorscience Program
Dept. of Zoology/Physiology
University of Wyoming
Laramie, WY - 82071 


The simple answer to your question is Yes, there is clear evidence
of a tendency of humans to subdivide a time cycle into whole numbered
fractions (eg, halves, thirds, quarters, etc). `Meter' is a universal
human behavior.
  Let me know if I can help you further. Im very interested in this
topic and the ways in which ordinary speech (and especially ritualized
speech like prayers, unison text repetition, tour guide speech, train
conductor speech, etc etc) resembles simple music.

May I recommend a paper of mine called `Naive time, temporal patterns
and human audition' that appeared in R. Port and T. van Gelder `Mind
as Motion: Explorations in the Dynamics of Cognition' MITP, 1995.
It doesnt deal directly with music, but is certainly related. You
might also be interested in some other papers of mine that you
can get from my webpage.

Good luck, Bob Port

  (  (  (  O  )  )  )  (  (  (  O  )  )  )  (  (  (  O  )  )  ) 
                       Lingstcs/Comp Sci/Cogntv Sci
   ROBERT F. PORT      330 Memorial Hall, Indiana University
       Bloomington, Indiana 47405
     812-855-9217      Fx 812-855-5363


Dear Torleiv, 

that is a very interesting question!
you might know already Al Bregman's work about temporal order, and you
might need to specify the first part of your question a bit more ("Could
anyone recommend literature/research about the cognitive "measurement of
time"?), because there is a lot of stuff published about temporal
procession in the auditory system. For a start in psychophysics, i can
recommend a chapter by D. Eddins and D. Green, about "Temporal
integration and temporal resolution" in "Hearing", ed. by BCJ Moore,
Academic Press, Handbook of Perception and Cognition, 2nd ed., 1995.
This is not very "cognitive", but gives you a good feeling for important
basic properties of the auditory system. Also, you might check the
research by a group in Munich, Germany (Poeppel and Steinbuechel, german
oe and ue, visit Marc Christoph Wittmann's (who is a lecturer in this
group) web page: http://www.med.uni-muenchen.de/medpsy/time/marc.htm.

hope this helps a bit, 
best wishes, and merry christmas, 

ps my background is in biology and psychophysics, and i'm interested
in "time perception" in a wide sense. i guess your background is in
music? than you might also check research by Neil Todd (manchester,
england, http://www.psy.man.ac.uk/Staff/NTodd/) - he published some very
interesting findings about rhythm perception.

marina rose
university laboratory of physiology
parks road, oxford, u.k.
tel.: 0044 1865 272495; internal: 72495


>From Peter Lennox:
I'd be very interested. You could check out O'Keefe, who (I seem to
remember) talks about a 'clock' mechanism based on synchronous neural
firings, though he does so in order to discuss spatial perception, rather
than temporal perception. Sorry, I don't have the reference here, but he had
a paper in a publication by Eilan, McCarthy and Brewer; something like
"Spatial Representation".


You might want to look at:


here's the abstract:

Two stages for structuring tone sequences have been distinguished by
Povel and Essens (1985). In the first, 
a mental clock segments a sequence into
equal time units (clock model); in the second, intervals are specified
in terms of subdivisions 
of these units. The present findings support the clock
model in that it predicts human performance better than three other
algorithmic models. Two further 
experiments in which clock and subdivision
characteristics were varied did not support the hypothesized effect of
the nature of the subdivisions 
on complexity. A model focusing on the variations in
the beat-anchored envelopes of the tone clusters was proposed. Errors in
reproduction suggest a 
dual-code representation comprising temporal and
figural characteristics. The temporal part of the representation is
based on the clock model but 
specifies, in addition, the metric of the level below the clock. The
beat-tone-cluster envelope concept 
was proposed to specify the figural part.

Jim Ballas


the following references may be relevant:

Hooper, S. L. (1998). Transduction of temporal patterns by single neurons. Nature Neuroscience, 1(8), 720-726.
Hazeltine, E., Helmuth, L. L., & Ivry, R. B. (1997). Neural mechanisms of timing. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 1(5), 163-169.
Ivry, R. B., & Hazeltine, R. E. (1995). Perception and production of temporal intervals across a range of durations: Evidence for a common timing mechanism. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 21(1), 3-18.

Franck Ramus
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
17 Queen Square
London WC1N 3AR
tel: (+44) 20 7679 1138
fax: (+44) 20 7813 2835


>From Eliot Handelman:
The whole literature on the habituation of the orienting response dealt with this. I'm not up on the latest
stuff, but E. N. Sokolov proposed what he called a "neuronal model" which was just the kind of
"subconscious grid" you seem to be thinking of. There's also Richard Held.

Held R. "Perception and its neuronal mechanisms," Cognition, 33:139-154
Sokolov, E.N. "Perception and the conditioned reflex" Waydenfeld, S. W. trans, NY: Macmillan 1963