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Auditory enhancement of increments in spectral amplitude stems from more than one source

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Issue number5
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)693-702
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


A component of a test sound consisting of simultaneous pure tones perceptually "pops out" if the test sound is preceded by a copy of itself with that component attenuated. Although this "enhancement" effect was initially thought to be purely monaural, it is also observable when the test sound and the precursor sound are presented contralaterally (i.e., to opposite ears). In experiment 1, we assessed the magnitude of ipsilateral and contralateral enhancement as a function of the time interval between the precursor and test sounds (10, 100, or 600 ms). The test sound, randomly transposed in frequency from trial to trial, was followed by a probe tone, either matched or mismatched in frequency to the test sound component which was the target of enhancement. Listeners' ability to discriminate matched probes from mismatched probes was taken as an index of enhancement magnitude. The results showed that enhancement decays more rapidly for ipsilateral than for contralateral precursors, suggesting that ipsilateral enhancement and contralateral enhancement stem from at least partly different sources. It could be hypothesized that, in experiment 1, contralateral precursors were effective only because they provided attentional cues about the target tone frequency. In experiment 2, this hypothesis was tested by presenting the probe tone before the precursor sound rather than after the test sound. Although the probe tone was then serving as a frequency cue, contralateral precursors were again found to produce enhancement. This indicates that contralateral enhancement cannot be explained by cuing alone and is a genuine sensory phenomenon.