Learning to detect auditory pattern components

Marjorie R. Leek, Charles S. Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Listeners’ abilities to learn to hear all the details of an initially unfamiliar sequence of ten 45-ms tones were studied by tracking detection thresholds for each tonal component over a prolonged period of training. After repeated listening to this sequence, the presence or absence of individual tones could be recognized, even though they were attenuated by 40–50 dB relative to the remainder of the pattern. Threshold-tracking histories suggest that listeners tend to employ two different learning strategies, one of which is considerably more efficient. Special training by reducing stimulus uncertainty and extending the duration of the target component was effective in increasing the rate of threshold improvement. Strategies acquired with the first pattern studied generalized to new sequences of tones. The possible implications of these results for the perceptual learning of speech or other auditory codes are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1037-1044
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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