Molecular analysis of the effect of relative tone level on multitone pattern discrimination

Robert A. Lutfi, Walt Jesteadt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Molecular psychophysics attempts to model the observer's response to stimuli as they vary from trial to trial. The approach has gained popularity in multitone pattern discrimination studies as a means of estimating the relative reliance or decision weight listeners give to different tones in the pattern. Various factors affecting decision weights have been examined, but one largely ignored is the relative level of tones in the pattern. In the present study listeners detected a level-increment in a sequence of 5, 100-ms, 2.0-kHz tone bursts alternating in level between 40 and 80 dB SPL. The level increment was made largest on the 40-dB tones, yet despite this all four highly-practiced listeners gave near exclusive weight to the 80-dB tones. The effect was the same when the tones were replaced by bursts of broadband Gaussian noise alternating in level. It was reduced only when the level differences were made <10 dB, and it was entirely reversed only when the low-level tones alternated with louder bursts of Gaussian noise. The results are discussed in terms of the effects of both sensory and perceptual factors on estimates of decision weights.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3853-3860
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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