Re: AUDITORY Digest - 10 May 2001 (#2001-88) (Bruno Repp )

Subject: Re: AUDITORY Digest - 10 May 2001 (#2001-88)
From:    Bruno Repp  <repp(at)ALVIN.HASKINS.YALE.EDU>
Date:    Fri, 11 May 2001 16:17:07 -0700

Chuck Watson wrote: >It is certainly tempting to say that if Al B. is uncertain about "streams" >vs. "groups" the rest of us should avoid the issue. But that question did >cause me to reflect over the reason for the quick acceptance, some years ago >now, of the concept of "streams", which might have been argued to have been >unnecessary, given the rich vocabulary already established by Gestalt >psychologists. Perhaps it was already obvious to most of you...but it just >occurred to me that we did need a word to characterize grouping phenomena in >audition, where the temporal dimension dominates. The Gestalt vocabulary >had been developed primarily with static visual displays in mind, even >though its founders clearly believed that the grouping principles were valid >for all modalities. "Streams and streaming" nicely capture the temporal >dimension that is the essential property of most auditory grouping >phenomena. I don't think the last sentence is quite accurate. (I agree with all the foregoing.) In fact, many auditory grouping phenomena do not involve streaming at all. Any rhythmic pattern involves grouping by temporal proximity, but all sounds are perceived as part of a single stream. Melodies create pitch-based grouping, and unless the pitch jumps are large and the tempo is fast, all tones are perceived to come from the same source. Dynamic accents can induce grouping without inducing any streaming. It seems to me that streaming is a separate phenomenon that is independent of auditory grouping, or perhaps it should be considered a special form of grouping, namely grouping-by-source. --Bruno Bruno H. Repp 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(at)

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