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Hear Res. 2013 Apr;298:10-6. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2013.01.016. Epub 2013 Jan 31.

The perceptual enhancement of tones by frequency shifts.

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Institut de Neurosciences Cognitives et Intégratives d'Aquitaine, CNRS and Université de Bordeaux, 146 rue Leo-Saignat, F-33076 Bordeaux, France.


In a chord of pure tones with a flat spectral profile, one tone can be perceptually enhanced relative to the other tones by the previous presentation of a slightly different chord. "Intensity enhancement" (IE) is obtained when the component tones of the two chords have the same frequencies, but in the first chord the target of enhancement is attenuated relative to the other tones. "Frequency enhancement" (FE) is obtained when both chords have a flat spectral profile, but the target of enhancement shifts in frequency from the first to the second chord. We report here an experiment in which IE and FE were measured using a task requiring the listener to indicate whether or not the second chord included a tone identical to a subsequent probe tone. The results showed that a global attenuation of the first chord relative to the second chord disrupted IE more than FE. This suggests that the mechanisms of IE and FE are not the same. In accordance with this suggestion, computations of the auditory excitation patterns produced by the chords indicate that the mechanism of IE is not sufficient to explain FE for small frequency shifts.

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