Build-up of the tendency to segregate auditory streams: resetting effects of single deviant tones

Nicholas R. Haywood, Brian Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The tendency to hear a sequence of alternating low (L) and high (H) frequency tones as two streams can be increased by a preceding induction sequence, even one composed only of same-frequency tones. Four experiments used such an induction sequence (10 identical L tones) to promote segregation in a shorter test sequence comprising L and H tones. Previous studies have shown that the build-up of stream segregation is usually reduced greatly when a sudden change in acoustic properties distinguishes all of the induction tones from their test-sequence counterparts. Experiment 1 showed that a single deviant tone, created by altering the final inducer (in frequency, level, duration, or replacement with silence) reduced reported segregation, often substantially. Experiment 2 partially replicated this finding, using changes in temporal discrimination as a measure of streaming. Experiments 3 and 4 varied the size of a frequency change applied to the deviant tone; the extent of resetting varied with size only gradually. The results suggest that resetting begins to occur once the change is large enough to be noticeable. Since the prior inducers always remained unaltered in the deviant-tone conditions, it is proposed that a single change actively resets the build-up evoked by the induction sequence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3019-3031
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


  • sequence
  • alternating frequency tones


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