Enhancement, adaptation, and the binaural system

J Acoust Soc Am. 2008 Jun;123(6):4412-20. doi: 10.1121/1.2902177.


In a test sound consisting of a burst of pink noise, an arbitrarily selected target frequency band can be "enhanced" by the previous presentation of a similar noise with a spectral notch in the target frequency region. As a result of the enhancement, the test sound evokes a pitch sensation corresponding to the pitch of the target band. Here, a pitch comparison task was used to assess enhancement. In the first experiment, a stronger enhancement effect was found when the test sound and its precursor had the same interaural time difference (ITD) than when they had opposite ITDs. Two subsequent experiments were concerned with the audibility of an instance of dichotic pitch in binaural test sounds preceded by precursors. They showed that it is possible to enhance a frequency region on the sole basis of ITD manipulations, using spectrally identical test sounds and precursors. However, the observed effects were small. A major goal of this study was to test the hypothesis that enhancement originates at least in part from neural adaptation processes taking place at a central level of the auditory system. The data failed to provide strong support for this hypothesis.

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization*
  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Functional Laterality*
  • Hearing / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement
  • Judgment
  • Middle Aged
  • Pitch Discrimination / physiology*
  • Pitch Perception*
  • Sound Localization