A sequence of constant-frequency tones can promote streaming in a subsequent sequence of alternatingfrequency tones, but why this effect occurs is not fully understood and its time course has not been investigated. Experiment 1 used a 2.0-s-long constant-frequency inducer (10 repetitions of a lowfrequency pure tone) to promote segregation in a subsequent, 1.2-s test sequence of alternating low- and high-frequency tones. Replacing the final inducer tone with silence substantially reduced reported test-sequence segregation. This reduction did not occur when either the 4th or 7th inducer was replaced with silence. This suggests that a change at the induction/test-sequence boundary actively resets build-up, rather than less segregation occurring simply because fewer inducer tones were presented. Furthermore, Experiment 2 found that a constant-frequency inducer produced its maximum segregation-promoting effect after only three tones-this contrasts with the more gradual build-up typically observed for alternating-frequency sequences. Experiment 3 required listeners to judge continuously the grouping of 20-s test sequences. Constant-frequency inducers were considerably more effective at promoting segregation than alternating ones; this difference persisted for ~10 s. In addition, resetting arising from a single deviant (longer tone) was associated only with constant-frequency inducers. Overall, the results suggest that constant-frequency inducers promote segregation by capturing one subset of test-sequence tones into an ongoing, preestablished stream, and that a deviant tone may reduce segregation by disrupting this capture. These findings offer new insight into the dynamics of stream segregation, and have implications for the neural basis of streaming and the role of attention in stream formation.
|Number of pages
|Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
|Published - Dec 2013