• Humans attend to signal duration but not temporal structure for sound detection: Steady-state versus pulse-train signals

      Wright, B.A.; Dai, H.; Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, College of Science, University of Arizona (Acoustical Society of America, 2021)
      Most sounds fluctuate in amplitude, but do listeners attend to the temporal structure of those fluctuations when trying to detect the mere presence of those sounds? This question was addressed by leading listeners to expect a faint sound with a fixed temporal structure (pulse train or steady-state tone) and total duration (300 ms) and measuring their ability to detect equally faint sounds of unexpected temporal structure (pulse train when expecting steady state) and/or total duration (<300 ms). Detection was poorer for sounds with unexpected than with expected total durations, replicating previous outcomes, but was uninfluenced by the temporal structure of the expected sound. The results disagree with computational predictions of the multiple-look model, which posits that listeners attend to both the total duration and temporal structure of the signal, but agree with predictions of the matched-window energy-detector model, which posits that listeners attend to the total duration but not the temporal structure of the signal. Moreover, the matched-window energy-detector model could also account for previous results, including some that were originally interpreted as supporting the multiple-look model. Taken together, at least when detecting faint sounds, listeners appear to attend to the total duration of expected sounds but to ignore their detailed temporal structure.