Volume 107, Issue 5, May 2000
Index of content:
- PSYCHOLOGICAL ACOUSTICS 
107(2000); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.428649View Description Hide Description
Periodicity pitch is the most salient and important of all pitch percepts. Psychoacousticalmodels of this percept have long postulated the existence of internalized harmonic templates against which incoming resolved spectra can be compared, and pitch determined according to the best matching templates [J. Goldstein, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 54, 1496–1516 (1973)]. However, it has been a mystery where and how such harmonic templates can come about. We present here a biologically plausible model for how such templates can form in the early stages of the auditory system. The model demonstrates that any broadband stimulus, including noise and random click trains, suffices for generating the templates, and that there is no need for any delay lines, oscillators, or other neural temporal structures. The model consists of two key stages: cochlear filtering followed by coincidence detection. The cochlear stage provides responses analogous to those recorded in the auditory nerve and cochlear nucleus. Specifically, it performs moderately sharp frequency analysis via a filterbank with tonotopically ordered center frequencies (CFs); the rectified and phase-locked filter responses are further enhanced temporally to resemble the synchronized responses of cells in the cochlear nucleus. The second stage is a matrix of coincidence detectors that compute the average pairwise instantaneous correlation (or product) between responses from all CFs across the channels. Model simulations show that for any broadband stimulus, a degree of high coincidence occurs among cochlear channels that are spaced precisely at harmonic intervals. Accumulating coincidences over time results in the formation of harmonic templates for all fundamental frequencies in the phase-locking frequency range. The model accounts for the critical role played by three subtle but important factors in cochlear function: the nonlinear transformations following the filtering stage, the rapid phase shifts of the traveling wave near its resonance, and the spectral resolution of the cochlear filters. Finally, we discuss the physiological correlates and location of such a process and its resulting templates.
107(2000); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.428650View Description Hide Description
Pitchdiscrimination at peaks of frequency modulation is better than at troughs [L. Demany and K. I. McAnally, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 96, 706–715 (1989)]. A similar asymmetry emerges within a time-domain pitch perception model based on autocorrelation. The model requires the following assumptions: (a) The neural discharge patterns must be temporally sharpened to a single narrow pulse per period (possibly by neural convergence within the cochlear nucleus). (b) Autocorrelation must be implemented as a cross correlation between the neural pulse train and a delayed pulse train convolved with a short kernel function. This kernel function must be asymmetric in time. (c) Pitchdiscrimination must rely on higher-order modes of the autocorrelation function. This particular implementation of the autocorrelation model produces modes that are sharper for peaks than for troughs, and thus accounts for the pitchdiscrimination asymmetry observed experimentally. As a by-product it can account for “hyperacute” discrimination observed at peaks of triangular modulation.
Frequency discrimination in budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus): Effects of tone duration and tonal context107(2000); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.428651View Description Hide Description
Studies of frequency resolving power in budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus) have shown that this species has excellent discrimination abilities for both simple and complex sounds falling in the region of 2 to 4 kHz—the frequency range of their contact call. In four experiments, frequency discrimination by budgerigars of short tones similar to elements found in the contact call was examined. Frequency difference limens (FDLs) for simple pure tones at 2.86 kHz were constant for tone durations above 20 ms but higher for shorter tones. Budgerigars generally showed larger FDLs for shorter duration 1-, 2-, and 4-kHz pure tones. FDLs in budgerigars for 20-ms tones embedded in a sequence of six other tones were similar to FDLs measured for tones of the same frequency presented in isolation. Moreover, there was no effect of introducing trial-by-trial variation in the location of the frequency change in the seven-tone complexes for budgerigars, a condition for which humans showed a large decrement in performance. Taken together, these results suggest budgerigars possess enhanced spectral resolving power for short duration pure tones when they are embedded in contact call-like tonal patterns.
107(2000); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.428652View Description Hide Description
Acoustic feedback is a common problem in hearing aids with vented earmolds. Hearing aids designed to work under normal conditions become unstable when the feedback path varies under changing conditions. A comprehensive study of the variability of the feedback path under various conditions and for different users is presented in this paper. A multiplicative uncertainty bound widely used in H-infinity robust control is suggested to model the variations, which is then used to formulate a robust stability condition for the hearing aid. The upper limit of the closed-loop acoustic gain of the hearing aid for maintaining robust stability is also derived. Examples of robust constant amplification hearing aids, which maintain stability in the face of the given variations in the feedback path, are presented. The robust stability condition is also suggested as a tool to design more robust digital hearing aids.
107(2000); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.428653View Description Hide Description
The report in 1993 by Green [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 93, 2096–2105 (1993)] describing the application of a new psychophysical method requiring few trials and little time to measureauditory thresholds has generated considerable interest among experimentalists. The procedure uses a single-interval stimulus presentation, requests a yes–no decision by subjects, and implements a maximum-likelihood calculation to determine the next trial stimulus level within an adaptive track, as well as the final threshold estimate. Data are presented here describing separate experiences with this procedure in two laboratories in both detection and discrimination tasks. Issues addressed include comparisons with more traditional psychophysical methods, variability in threshold estimates, experimental time required, and possible minor modifications to improve the basic procedure. Results using this procedure are comparable in terms of variability of estimates to those emerging from more lengthy procedures. However, because it may be difficult for some listeners to maintain a consistent criterion and because attentional lapses may be costly, experimenters must be willing to monitor performance closely and repeat some tracks in cases where excessively high variability is noted. Further, this procedure may not be suitable for tasks for which the form of the psychometric function is not well-established. Modifications allowing a variable slope parameter in the maximum-likelihood evaluations of psychometric functions may be of benefit.