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Re: Instruction for subjects
I found your observations interesting, although I am not really an
expert on this phenomenon. Nevertheless, the task reminds me of some
work on phoneme restoration that I did long ago.
I suspect that the reported continuity of the disrupted/masked sound
is not really auditory, or only partially so. Rather, it is a figural
completion achieved at a higher level of processing. It may be
analogous to the completition of partially hidden objects in vision.
If part of an object is obscured by another object, people don't
really "see" the obscured part, even though they perceive the
obscured object to be intact. Similarly, the disrupted/masked sound
may be perceived as a continuous auditory "object", even though
people really don't "hear" it during the masked portion.
You are asking your subjects to compare a sound which is heard in its
entirety to one that is heard only partially, and that may be the
reason for the confusion. The empirical question is what is actually
heard during the /disrupted/masked segment: Do people only hear the
masking noise, or do they also hear the masked sound? You could try
to address that question by asking subjects to compare the disrupted
test sounds with standards that have their central segment attenuated
by varying degrees. Perhaps there is a certain degree of attenuation
that best matches what subjects actually hear.
I am running some pilot behavioral studies of auditory continuity illusion
(aka temporal induction).
The sounds are FM sweeps with gaps or noise-inserted gaps.
For various reasons I am running them as "same/different" trials,
wth the first sound of the trial being a regular FM sweep and the
second one being
the modified FM sweep.
When I ask the subjects, "Is the second sound as continuous as the
first sound?" they become confused.
Even FM sweeps with much-louder noise inserted in the gap are
considered by some subjects to be not very continuous. (contrary to
How do I change my instructions (basically, the confusion is around the
word 'continuous')? Or change the task?
Fatima T. Husain, Ph.D.
Bldg. 10/ Room 8S-235D
Bruno H. Repp
300 George Street
New Haven, CT 06511-6624
Tel. (203) 865-6163, ext. 236
Fax (203) 865-8963
NOTE: I am at Rutgers University, Newark, two days per week,
usually Tuesday and Wednesday, and don't read my Haskins
e-mail on those days. To reach me at Rutgers, send e-mail to