Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception Institut Neurosciences Cognition Université Paris Descartes Centre National de Recherche Scientifique
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Investigation of perceptual constancy in the temporal-envelope domain

The ability to discriminate complex temporal envelope patterns submitted to temporal compression or expansion was assessed in normal-hearing listeners. An XAB, matching-to-sample-procedure was used. X, the reference stimulus, is obtained by applying the sum of two, inharmonically related, sinusoids to a broadband noise carrier. A and B are obtained by multiplying the frequency of each modulation component of X by the same time expansion/compression factor,   0.35–2.83. For each trial, A or B is a time-reversed rendering of X, and the listeners’ task is to choose which of the two is matched by X. Overall, the results indicate that discrimination performance degrades for increasing amounts of time expansion/compression i.e., when  departs from 1, regardless of the frequency spacing of modulation components and the peak-to-trough ratio of the complex envelopes. An auditory model based on envelope extraction followed by a memory-limited, template-matching process accounted for results obtained without time scaling of stimuli, but generally underestimated discrimination ability with either time expansion or compression, especially with the longer stimulus durations. This result is consistent with partial or incomplete perceptual normalization of envelope patterns.