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Robert P Carlyon, John M Deeks, Yury Shtyrov, Jessica A Grahn, Hedwig E Gockel, Olaf Hauk, and Friedemann Pulvermuller (2009)

Changes in the Perceived Duration of a Narrowband Sound Induced by a Preceding Stimulus

Journal of Experimental Psychology, 35(6):1898-1912.

The authors show that a narrowband noise (NBN) is perceived as longer when presented immediately after a wideband noise (WBN), compared to when the WBN is absent. This effect depended on the WBN’s frequency spectrum overlapping that of the NBN, and it increased as the duration of the WBN increased up to 300 ms. It decreased when a silent gap was introduced between the WBN and NBN, but remained significant for an easily detectable gap of 40 ms. A correlate of the effect was observed in the mismatch negativity (MMN) to a deviant stimulus, consisting of a WBN NBN, presented in a sequence of more common isolated WBNs. The MMN latency was longer for an on-frequency than for an off-frequency WBN; and, more importantly, the size of this difference correlated across participants with the difference in perceived duration. A rhythm-adjustment experiment showed that the presence of an on-frequency WBN immediately preceding a tone caused that tone to be heard as starting earlier than when the WBN was absent. The results are discussed in relation to the continuity illusion and models of duration encoding.

duration perception, mismatch negativity, rhythm