Twenty-eight audiometrically normal adult listeners were given a variety of auditory tests, ranging from quiet and masked thresholds through the discrimination of simple and moderately complex temporal patterns. Test-retest reliability was good. Individual differences persisted on a variety of psychoacoustic tasks following a period of training using adaptive threshold-tracking methods, and with trial-by-trial feedback. Large individual differences in performance on temporal-sequence-discrimination tasks suggest that this form of temporal processing may be of clinical significance. In addition, high correlations were obtained within given classes of tests (as, between all tests of frequency discrimination) and between certain classes of tests (as, between tests of frequency discrimination and those of sequence discrimination). Patterns of individual differences were found which support the conclusion that individual differences in auditory performance are, in part, a function of patterns of independent abilities.
"Although we excluded auditory acuity for pitch (tones), non-pitch auditory acuity (clicks) and general attention and motivation for psychophysical tasks (gabors), there may exist other factors that contribute to the remaining shared variance between language and music. For example, although previous studies have not found relationships between indices of higher-level cognitive processes (such as IQ or working memory) and lower-level auditory perception , it may be the case that these psychometric factors bear on linguistic and musical pitch processing after sensory acuity is controlled . Additionally, it is worth pointing out that both the linguistic and musical conditions involved contour pitches, whereas all three control conditions involved pairs of singleton stimulus tokens – as such, individual differences in working memory capacity and sequencing ability may have been differentially implicated in these tasks. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Language and music epitomize the complex representational and computational capacities of the human mind. Strikingly similar in their structural and expressive features, a longstanding question is whether the perceptual and cognitive mechanisms underlying these abilities are shared or distinct - either from each other or from other mental processes. One prominent feature shared between language and music is signal encoding using pitch, conveying pragmatics and semantics in language and melody in music. We investigated how pitch processing is shared between language and music by measuring consistency in individual differences in pitch perception across language, music, and three control conditions intended to assess basic sensory and domain-general cognitive processes. Individuals' pitch perception abilities in language and music were most strongly related, even after accounting for performance in all control conditions. These results provide behavioral evidence, based on patterns of individual differences, that is consistent with the hypothesis that cognitive mechanisms for pitch processing may be shared between language and music.
PLoS ONE 08/2013; 8(8):e73372. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0073372 · 3.23 Impact Factor
"If this L1/L2 " trade-off " is extended to adult L2 learners, individuals with relatively poorly defined L1 categories (shallower identification slopes, better within-category discrimination) might prove to be better at learning L2 vowels. Similarly, research in auditory abilities has shown that listeners vary in their performance on psychoacoustic tasks (Johnson et al., 1987; Surprenant and Watson, 2001; Kidd et al., 2007; see also Carroll, 1993 for a comprehensive review of factor-analytic studies of human cognitive abilities , based on 38 studies published before 1993); it is possible that this may impact their learning of new distinctions ( " auditory processing " hypothesis). Wong and Perrachione (2007) and Lee et al. (2007) showed that auditory pitch ability , as measured using nonspeech stimuli, can predict success in the use of pitch patterns in lexical identification in a tone language by L2 learners; however, since pitch is a shared acoustic feature of music and tone perception, one may question whether such a link is specific to the acquisition of tone languages or may relate to general L2 learning ability. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The perception and production of nonnative phones in second language (L2) learners can be improved via auditory training, but L2 learning is often characterized by large differences in performance across individuals. This study examined whether success in learning L2 vowels, via five sessions of high-variability phonetic training, related to the learners' native (L1) vowel processing ability or their frequency discrimination acuity. A group of native speakers of Greek received training, while another completed the pre-/post-tests but without training. Pre-/post-tests assessed different aspects of their L2 and L1 vowel processing and frequency acuity. L2 and L1 vowel processing were assessed via: (a) Natural English (L2) vowel identification in quiet and in multi-talker babble, and natural Greek (L1) vowel identification in babble; (b) the categorization of synthetic English and Greek vowel continua; and (c) discrimination of the same continua. Frequency discrimination acuity was assessed for a nonspeech continuum. Frequency discrimination acuity was related to measures of both L1 and L2 vowel processing, a finding that favors an auditory processing over a speech-specific explanation for individual variability in L2 vowel learning. The most efficient frequency discriminators at pre-test were also the most accurate both in English vowel perception and production after training.
The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 12/2010; 128(6):3757-68. DOI:10.1121/1.3506351 · 1.50 Impact Factor
"In some cases, as in individual differences in the ability to hear out the details of complex auditory patterns, the range of thresholds in discrimination performance can be as large as or even larger than the effects of the primary relevant stimulus parameters (e.g. Johnson et al 1987; Watson 1987, p. 272). Many reports of large individual differences in the discrimination or detection abilities of audiometrically normal listeners have come from studies of temporal masking (e.g. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this review of auditory psychophysics and perception, we cite some important books, research monographs, and research summaries from the past decade. Within auditory psychophysics, we have singled out some topics of current importance: Cross-Spectral Processing, Timbre and Pitch, and Methodological Developments. Complex sounds and complex listening tasks have been the subject of new studies in auditory perception. We review especially work that concerns auditory pattern perception, with emphasis on temporal aspects of the patterns and on patterns that do not depend on the cognitive structures often involved in the perception of speech and music. Finally, we comment on some aspects of individual difference that are sufficiently important to question the goal of characterizing auditory properties of the typical, average, adult listener. Among the important factors that give rise to these individual differences are those involved in selective processing and attention.
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