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Are Rising Sounds Always Louder? Influences of Spectral Structure and Intensity-Region on Loudness Sensitivity to Intensity-Change Direction

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In a previous study, a robust asymmetry in global loudness was observed between rising and falling-intensity 1kHz tones, pointing out the existence of a mechanism specifically sensitive to sound intensity direction [Ponsot et al., Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 77(3), 907–920 (2015)]. The properties of this "direction-sensitive" mechanism are further explored in the present study, where its dependence on two stimuli characteristics, the spectral content and the intensity-region is examined. In a first experiment, the global loudness of rising and falling-intensity sounds varying over 15-dB ranges was assessed in a magnitude estimation task. The ramps had various spectral contents (pure tones from 250 Hz to 8 kHz and broadband noises) and were presented in diff erent intensity-regions (from 50–65 dB SPL to 70–85 dB SPL). Significant asymmetries were observed across the diff erent frequencies but not for broadband noises. In addition, a significant interaction between the direction of change and the intensity-region was observed for tones and noises. This latter eff ect was specifically addressed in a second experiment using an adaptive loudness-matching procedure, in which asymmetries were inferred from pairwise comparisons, both for 1-kHz tones and for white noises presented in mid and high intensity-regions. As in Experiment 1, greater asymmetries were observed for tones compared to noises; however significant asymmetries were found for noises as well. Furthermore, for both tones and noises, the size of the asymmetries was significantly decreased with the intensity-region when the sound pairs were composed of a rising followed by a falling stimulus. These results are discussed in the light of recent physiological and neuroscience studies showing that spectrally structured looming sounds are treated specially by the brain.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2015

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  • Acta Acustica united with Acustica, published together with the European Acoustics Association (EAA), is an international, peer-reviewed journal on acoustics. It publishes original articles on all subjects in the field of acoustics, such as general linear acoustics, nonlinear acoustics, macrosonics, flow acoustics, atmospheric sound, underwater sound, ultrasonics, physical acoustics, structural acoustics, noise control, active control, environmental noise, building acoustics, room acoustics, acoustic materials, acoustic signal processing, computational and numerical acoustics, hearing, audiology and psychoacoustics, speech, musical acoustics, electroacoustics, auditory quality of systems. It reports on original scientific research in acoustics and on engineering applications. The journal considers scientific papers, technical and applied papers, book reviews, short communications, doctoral thesis abstracts, etc. In irregular intervals also special issues and review articles are published.
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