The Effects of Visual Cues, Blindfolding, Synesthetic Experience, and Musical Training on Pure-Tone Frequency Discrimination

Behav Sci (Basel). 2018 Dec 24;9(1):2. doi: 10.3390/bs9010002.


How perceptual limits can be reduced has long been examined by psychologists. This study investigated whether visual cues, blindfolding, visual-auditory synesthetic experience, and musical training could facilitate a smaller frequency difference limen (FDL) in a gliding frequency discrimination test. Ninety university students, with no visual or auditory impairment, were recruited for this one-between (blindfolded/visual cues) and one-within (control/experimental session) designed study. Their FDLs were tested by an alternative forced-choice task (gliding upwards/gliding downwards/no change) and two questionnaires (Vividness of Mental Imagery Questionnaire and Projector⁻Associator Test) were used to assess their tendency to synesthesia. The participants provided with visual cues and with musical training showed a significantly smaller FDL; on the other hand, being blindfolded or having a synesthetic experience before could not significantly reduce the FDL. However, no pattern was found between the perception of the gliding upwards and gliding downwards frequencies. Overall, the current study suggests that the inter-sensory perception can be enhanced through the training and facilitation of visual⁻auditory interaction under the multiple resource model. Future studies are recommended in order to verify the effects of music practice on auditory percepts, and the different mechanisms between perceiving gliding upwards and downwards frequencies.

Keywords: auditory-visual synesthesia; blindfold; frequency difference limens; gliding frequencies; multiple resource model; perceptual limit, common resource theory; visual cues.