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perceptual segregation of sound

Dear all,

I have a question of general interest about auditory scene analysis, and
would be grateful for any views on the subject.

Humans have the remarkable ability to interpret multiple events and
perceive distinct sources within a complex sound environment. The
concept of perceptual streams of information is explained in (Bregman
A.S., Auditory Scene Analysis: The Perceptual Organization of Sound, MIT
Press, 1990). My question is: are we really capable of perceptually
segregating multiple sources concurrently, or are we just focusing our
attention on one source, and then shifting it very quickly to another
source? Evolutionarily speaking, I can see it would be advantageous if
we were being chased by two lions rather than one, to be able to
concentrate on both simultaneously. However, I also have the impression
that if lion 1 roars, we will forget about lion 2 for a moment, and vice
versa. If both roar at the same time, are we now listening to two
separate lions or just a general sound of lions roaring? 
In any case, run for it...


Mark Every <m.every@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
CVSSP, SEPS, University of Surrey