Relative effects of increment and pedestal duration on the detection of intensity increments

J Acoust Soc Am. 2011 Apr;129(4):2095-103. doi: 10.1121/1.3557043.


The detection of a brief increment in the intensity of a longer duration pedestal is commonly used as a measure of intensity-resolution. Increment detection is known to improve with increasing duration of the increment and also with increasing duration of the pedestal, but the relative effects of these two parameters have not been explored in the same study. In several past studies of the effects of increment duration, pedestal duration was increased as increment duration increased. In the present study, increment and pedestal duration were independently manipulated. Increment-detection thresholds were determined for four subjects with normal-hearing using a 500- or 4000-Hz pedestal presented at 60 dB sound pressure level (SPL). Increment durations were 10, 20, 40, 80, 160, and 320 ms. Pedestal durations were 20, 40, 80, 160, and 320 ms. Each increment duration was combined with all pedestals of equal or greater duration. Multiple-regression analyses indicate that increment detection under these conditions is determined primarily by pedestal duration. Follow-up experiments ruled out effects of off-frequency listening or overshoot. The results suggest that effects of increment duration have been confounded by effects of pedestal duration in studies that co-varied increment and pedestal duration. Implications for models of temporal integration are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods*
  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Adult
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hearing / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Pitch Perception / physiology
  • Psychoacoustics*
  • Young Adult