The Octave Illusion Revisited Again

University of California, San Diego, CA, USA.
Journal of Experimental Psychology Human Perception & Performance (Impact Factor: 3.36). 05/2004; 30(2):355-64. DOI: 10.1037/0096-1523.30.2.355
Source: PubMed


The octave illusion (D. Deutsch, 1974) occurs when 2 tones separated by an octave are alternated repeatedly, such that when the right ear receives the high tone, the left ear receives the low tone, and vice versa. Most subjects in the original study reported hearing a single tone that alternated from ear to ear, whose pitch also alternated from octave to octave, and D. Deutsch (1975a) proposed an explanation in terms of separate what and where auditory pathways. C. D. Chambers, J. B. Mattingley, and S. A. Moss (2002) argued that the perceived pitch difference generally corresponds more to a semitone and proposed an alternative explanation in terms of diplacusis. This article argues that Chambers et al. used problematic procedures and reports a new experiment on the octave illusion. The findings confirm that an octave difference is generally perceived, and they agree with the model of Deutsch (1975a) but are at variance with the diplacusis hypothesis.

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Available from: Diana Deutsch, Jun 05, 2014
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    • "In most of the studies, handedness was considered to be an important parameter in the experimental design, and almost all studies found a correlation between handedness and the perception pattern of the subjects. A few studies did not find any correlation (Deutsch, 2004a; Herron, 1980; Zwicker, 1984), but these studies had a small sample size; however a large sample size would be required to obtain statistically significant handedness correlates. Regardless of whether handedness correlates were found, or whether the results were in accordance with "
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    ABSTRACT: The octave illusion was first described by Diana Deutsch in 1974; in this phenomenon, a dichotic sequence of oscillating 400 and 800 Hz sinusoidal tones evokes different illusory percepts. At the same time, the obtained percepts were found to be dependent on the subjects’ handedness. This study investigates the influence of the handedness classification method on the correlation between reported percept and handedness in the octave illusion. After presenting the stimulus, we asked a total of 174 subjects to report their percepts and complete a handedness inventory as well as a speed tapping task. According to the right shift theory of Annett (1972, 2002) and a related study by Kopiez, Galley, and Lehmann (2010), we hypothesized that the use of performance measurement to classify handedness may clarify ambiguous correlations of subjects’ handedness with some obtained illusionary percepts. The results support the general findings of Deutsch but show that stronger effects can be found if hand performance differences are used for handedness classification. A better separation between the handedness groups could be observed, especially for the complex perception patterns.
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    • "Middle panel: Typical percepts of the stimuli. Right panel: Two-channel model according to Deutsch (2004): The perceived location (where?) follows the high tone (800 Hz) and the perceived pitch (what?) follows the RE input. "
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    ABSTRACT: The auditory octave illusion arises when dichotically presented tones, one octave apart, alternate rapidly between the ears. Most subjects perceive an illusory sequence of monaural tones: A high tone in the right ear (RE) alternates with a low tone, incorrectly localized to the left ear (LE). Behavioral studies suggest that the perceived pitch follows the RE input, and the perceived location the higher-frequency sound. To explore the link between the perceived pitches and brain-level interactions of dichotic tones, magnetoencephalographic responses were recorded to 4 binaural combinations of 2-min long continuous 400- and 800-Hz tones and to 4 monaural tones. Responses to LE and RE inputs were distinguished by frequency-tagging the ear-specific stimuli at different modulation frequencies. During dichotic presentation, ipsilateral LE tones elicited weaker and ipsilateral RE tones stronger responses than when both ears received the same tone. During the most paradoxical stimulus-high tone to LE and low tone to RE perceived as a low tone in LE during the illusion-also the contralateral responses to LE tones were diminished. The results demonstrate modified binaural interaction of dichotic tones one octave apart, suggesting that this interaction contributes to pitch perception during the octave illusion.
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    • "In short, when participants are asked to report what they hear on the basis of the acoustic presentation described above, a common (although by no means sovereign) perception is of hearing a high pitched tone in the right ear for A1 but a low pitched tone in the left ear for A2. While conflicting account of the illusion have been put forward in terms of either suppression or fusion between ears (Chambers et al., 2004; Deutsch, 2004), it is clear that the illusion is only apparent on half the trials (A2). Therefore, in terms of congruency between auditory and visual presentation, V1 + A1 should provides a stronger sense of perceptual unity than V2 + A2. "
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