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Re: maximum 'tatum' speed perception

Title: Re: maximum 'tatum' speed perception
(Revised version of a message I sent last week to Brian only.)

In response to Brian Whitman's question:

It depends on what you mean by "identify". If you mean either the ability to count the number of events accurately or to synchronize a motor activity (such as finger taps) with selected events, then the rate limit seems to be 8-10 Hz. Regarding the counting limit, see

Taubman, R. E. (1950a). Studies in judged number: I. The judgment of auditory number. Journal of General Psychology, 43, 167-194.

Regarding the rate limit for sensorimotor synchronization, I have investigated this in a recent study, which has been submitted for publication. I'd be happy to send the manuscript to anyone who is interested. See also

Bartlett, N. R., & Bartlett, S. C. (1959). Synchronization of a motor response with an anticipated sensory event. Psychological Review, 66, 203-218.

At rates faster than 8-10 Hz, it seems to be difficult or impossible to respond to successive sounds as individual events.

Rate limits for melody identification, which are higher and depend on the melody, have been investigated by

Warren, R. M., Gardner, D. A., Brubaker, B. S., & Bashford, J. A. , Jr. (1991). Melodic and nonmelodic sequences of tones: Effects of duration on perception. Music Perception, 8, 277-290.

Bruno H. Repp
Senior 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@haskins.yale.edu