Cascaded Amplitude Modulations in Sound Texture Perception

Richard Ian McWalter, Torsten Dau

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Abstract

Sound textures, such as crackling fire or chirping crickets, represent a broad class of sounds defined by their homogeneous temporal structure. It has been suggested that the perception of texture is mediated by time-averaged summary statistics measured from early auditory representations. In this study, we investigated the perception of sound textures that contain rhythmic structure, specifically second-order amplitude modulations that arise from the interaction of different modulation rates, previously described as "beating" in the envelope-frequency domain. We developed an auditory texture model that utilizes a cascade of modulation filterbanks that capture the structure of simple rhythmic patterns. The model was examined in a series of psychophysical listening experiments using synthetic sound textures-stimuli generated using time-averaged statistics measured from real-world textures. In a texture identification task, our results indicated that second-order amplitude modulation sensitivity enhanced recognition. Next, we examined the contribution of the second-order modulation analysis in a preference task, where the proposed auditory texture model was preferred over a range of model deviants that lacked second-order modulation rate sensitivity. Lastly, the discriminability of textures that included second-order amplitude modulations appeared to be perceived using a time-averaging process. Overall, our results demonstrate that the inclusion of second-order modulation analysis generates improvements in the perceived quality of synthetic textures compared to the first-order modulation analysis considered in previous approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Article number485
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Volume11
Number of pages12
ISSN1662-4548
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

© 2017 McWalter and Dau. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

Keywords

  • Amplitude modulation
  • Auditory model
  • Auditory perception
  • Natural sound
  • Sound texture

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