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Re: By any other name...
I think the "most likely" in your second paragraph is the crucial
point. If objective methods cannot prove the absence of the signal,
then I would argue that the signal is in fact present. Is an
objective proof of signal absence typically presented in studies of
the auditory continuity effect?
I'd say that is exactly the reason why the masked sound appears to
continue throughout the duration of the masker. The brain has no
evidence to assume the attended sound actually ceased. From the same
philosophical point of view you would have to assume the effect can
only persist for as long as the attended signal is, at least to some
degree, predictable, e.g. on a time scale of phonemes for speech
sounds and in music probably related to meter.
Of course a microphone and some signal processing would most likely
be able to prove that the sound was absent from the acoustic signal.
(Un)fortunately, the brain doesn't have access to the acoustic
Coincidentally, the quote from Lewis Carroll in the signature below
appears very appropriate for this discussion (especially if you care
to remain in a philosophical mood for a little longer).
PhD candidate Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology
Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology
"Contrariwise," continued Tweedledee, "if it was so, it might be, and
if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic!"
-- Lewis Carroll, "Through the Looking Glass"
Bruno Repp wrote:
There is a philosophical (or methodological?) problem I've had with
this effect for a long time: If, as you say, "the interrupting
louder sound stimulates the same peripheral receptors that would
have been stimulated if the sound had indeed been present", what
proves that the sound is actually absent?
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 each week,
usually Wednesday and Friday, and don't read my
Haskins e-mail on those days. To reach me at Rutgers, send
e-mail to <repp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>.