Limits of rhythm perception.

Laurent Demany, Catherine Semal
The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A. 2002-04-01; 55(2): 643-657
DOI: 10.1080/02724980143000406

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1. Q J Exp Psychol A. 2002 Apr;55(2):643-57.

Limits of rhythm perception.

Demany L(1), Semal C.

Author information:
(1)Laboratoire de Neurophysiologie, UMR CNRS 5543, Université Victor Segalen,
Bordeaux, France.

To what extent are listeners sensitive to the time intervals separating
non-consecutive events in sound sequences? The subjects of Experiment 1 were
presented with sequences of 20 identical tones in which the 10 odd-numbered tones
or the 10 even-numbered tones made up an isochronous sub-sequence (with a
periodicity of 0.5-1 s) whereas the other tones, acting as distractors, occurred
at random moments. Such sequences appeared to be very difficult to discriminate
from sequences without any timing regularity, which revealed a lack of perceptual
sensitivity to their « second-order » intervals. Experiment 2 employed repetitive
sequences in which the first-order intervals (separating consecutive tones) took
two possible values, forming a ratio that subjects had to classify as larger or
smaller than 2. The results of this experiment suggest that subjects were able to
make use of second-order intervals in their task, but mainly due to the
predictable nature of the sequences; the relative positions of subjective accents
(Povel & Essens, 1985) had no significant effect on performance. It is concluded
that the perception of subtle timing details in « ordinary » music may rest on
nothing more than a sensitivity to the relations between first-order intervals
(within a given auditory stream).

DOI: 10.1080/02724980143000406
PMID: 12047064 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

Auteurs Bordeaux Neurocampus