Detection of silent intervals between noises activating different perceptual channels: Some properties of 'central' auditory gap detection

D. P. Phillips, T. L. Taylor, S. E. Hall, Michele Carr, J. E. Mossop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


This article describes four experiments on gap detection by normal listeners, with the general goal being to examine the consequences of using noises in different perceptual channels to delimit a silent temporal gap to be detected. In experiment 1, subjects were presented with pairs of narrow- band noise sequences. The leading element in each pair had a center frequency of 2 kHz and the trailing clement's center frequency was parametrically varied. Gap detection thresholds became increasingly poor, sometimes by up to an order of magnitude, as the spectral disparity was increased between the noise bursts that marked the gap. These data suggested that gap-detection performance is impoverished when the underlying perceptual liming operation requires a comparison of activity in different perceptual channels rather than a discontinuity detection within a given channel. In experiment 2, we assessed the effect of leading-element duration in within-channel and between-channel gap detection tasks. Gap detection thresholds rose when the duration of the leading clement was less than about 30 ms, but only in the between-channel case. In experiment 3, the gap-detection stimulus was redesigned so that we could probe the perceptual mechanisms that might be involved in stop consonant discrimination. The leading element was a wideband noise burst, and the trailing element was a 300-ms bandpassed noise centered on 1.0 kHz. The independent variable was the duration of the leading element, and the dependent variable was the smallest detectable gap between the elements. When the leading element was short in duration (5-10 ms), gap thresholds were close to 30 ms, which is close to the voice onset time that parses some voiced from unvoiced stop consonants. In experiment 4, the generality of the leading-element duration effect in between-channel gap detection was examined. Spectrally identical noises defining the leading and trailing edges of the gap were presented to the same or to different ears. There was a leading-element duration effect only for the between channel case. The mean gap threshold was again close to 30 ms for short leading- element durations. Taken together, the data suggest that gap detection requiring a temporal correlation of activity in different perceptual channels is a fundamentally different task to the discontinuity detection used to execute gap detection performance in the traditional, within channel paradigm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3694-3705
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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