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Re: perceptual segregation of sound
This is a very interesting question. According to a comprehensive
target article by N. Cowan in BBS, the perceptual system can
attend to about 4 things at the same time (i.e. the attentional
capacity is about 4).
This is a complex question partly because there are different time scales
at work. Even if one accepts the assertion that we can attend
to more than one thing at a time perceptually, it is still possible
to switch back and forth physiologically (i.e. the psychological
moment has a larger time scale than the physiological moment).
My recent article discusses this and related issues.
- N. Cowan: "The magical number 4 in short-term memory", Behavioral
and Brain Sciences, vol. 24, pp. 87-185, 2001
- D.L. Wang: "The time dimension for scene analysis", IEEE Trans.
Neural Networks, vol. 16, pp. 1401-1426, 2005 (available on my website).
Mark Every wrote:
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...
Prof. DeLiang Wang
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
The Ohio State University
2015 Neil Ave.
Columbus, OH 43210-1277, U.S.A.
Phone: 614-292-6827 (OFFICE); 614-292-7402 (LAB)