Asymmetrical perception of changing intensity in short tonal stimuli: Duration of stimulus

Anthony Reinhardt-Rutland

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    7 Citations (Scopus)


    A number of reports have suggested that changing intensity in short tonal stimuii is asymmetrically perceived. In particular, steady stimuli may be heard as growing louder; stimuli must decrease in intensity to be heard as steady in loudness. The influence of stimulus duration on this perceptual asymmetry was examined. Three participants heard diotic tonal stimuli of eight durations between 0.8 sand 2.5 s. Each stimulus increased, decreased, or remained steady in intensity; initial intensity was 40 dB SPL (sound pressure level relative to 0.0002 dynes/cm(2)), and carrier frequency was 1 kHz. Participants made forced binary responses of `'growing louder'' or `'growing softer'' to each stimulus. For each duration, that value of intensity change eliciting equal numbers of both responses was determined. The results indicated a pronounced perceptual asymmetry for 0.8-s stimuli, which diminished for longer stimuli, changing intensity in 2.5-s stimuli was perceived symmetrically. Additionally, sensitivity to changing intensity improved as stimulus duration increased, suggesting that responses may be based in part on the difference in intensity between the beginning and end of the stimulus. Possible ramifications of the asymmetry reside in (a) the percussive nature of many natural sounds and (b) selective responding to approaching sound sources.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)115-122
    JournalJournal of General Psychology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Apr 1996


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