Independence and separability in the perception of complex nonspeech sounds.

Attention, perception & psychophysics

PubMedID: 19933572

Silbert NH, Townsend JT, Lentz JJ. Independence and separability in the perception of complex nonspeech sounds. Atten Percept Psychophys. 2009;71(8):1900-15.
All sounds are multidimensional, yet the relationships among auditory dimensions have been studied only infrequently. General recognition theory (GRT; Ashby & Townsend, 1986) is a multidimensional generalization of signal detection theory and, as such, provides powerful tools well suited to the study of the relationships among perceptual dimensions. However, previous uses of GRT have been limited in serious ways. We present methods designed to overcome these limitations, and we use these methods to apply GRT to investigations of the relationships among auditory perceptual dimensions that previous work suggests are independent (frequency, duration) or not (fundamental frequency [f0], spectral shape). Results from Experiment 1 confirm that frequency and duration do not interact decisionally, and they extend this finding with evidence of perceptual independence. Results from Experiment 2 show that f0 and spectral shape tend to interact perceptually, decisionally, or both, and that perceptual interactions occur within, but not between, stimuli (i.e., the interactions suggest correlated noise across processing channels corresponding to perceptually separable dimensions). The results are discussed in relation to lower level sensory modeling and higher level cognitive and linguistic issues.