Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Award

Summer 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Graduate Psychology


Michael D. Hall


Evidence suggests that listeners are limited to perceiving only three streams of auditory information when that information is presented within a rapid sequence of tonal elements. However, this limit has yet to be determined in a controlled setting while using complex tones. Because complex tones are more analogous to naturally occurring tones, finding this limit with complex tones would offer more ecological validity to the suggested perceptual limitation. Thus, Experiment 1 of the current investigation presented listeners with 2- to 5-tone sequences of sawtooth tones at a variety of presentation rates, instructing listeners to report the number of tonal events they perceived within each sequence. Similar to past findings, listeners were limited to only three perceptual streams as presentation rate increased. Since Experiment 1 found listeners to be limited in the number of auditory streams they could attend when complex tones were included, it begs the question of whether or not a situation could be created in which listeners could ever perceive more than three events at faster presentation rates. Therefore, Experiment 2 attempted to create a situation where additional streams could occur by adding another segregation cue. Timbre has been suggested to be a salient cue that promotes segregation between tones, making it a clear choice for the additional segregation cue in Experiment 2. Participants were presented with different presentation rates of 2- to 5-tone sequences containing either a single timbre or multiple timbres. Following the same procedure as Experiment 1, participants would report the number of perceived events within each sequence. The inclusion of timbre differences between tones in Experiment 2 was not enough to promote segregation of additional streams.

Included in

Psychology Commons