The effects of varying signal intensity on the perceptual organization of rhythmic auditory patterns

Lynn D. Zimba, Donald A. Robin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Cyclic repetitions of temporally structured sequences of sound bursts and gaps are perceived as rhythmic patterns. Some are perceptually unambiguous - the pattern organization is unique; others are perceptually ambiguous - the organization changes. Previous research suggests that the pattern of neuronal adaptation and recovery from adaptation associated with these stimuli determines how listeners perceptually organize the sequences. It follows that variations in the intensity of specific sound elements, which should produce specific changes in the underlying patterns of neuronal activation, should produce predictable changes in the perceptual organization of the sequences. The present study tested this hypothesis by observing the perceptual responses of listeners while varying the intensity of critical elements of unambiguous and ambiguous sequences. The results support the hypothesis in that an unambiguous sequence was made ambiguous and an ambiguous sequence was made less ambiguous. However, the unambiguous sequence did not completely reverse its perceptual organization, nor did the ambiguous sequence become completely unambiguous. The outcome is discussed focusing on the range of intensity increments tested, the type of stimuli used, and the possibility that neurosensory factors may interact with other organizing factors in determining the perceptual organization of rhythmic auditory sequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2362-2371
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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