Effect of noise on the detectability and fundamental frequency discrimination of complex tones

Hedwig Gockel, Brian C J Moore, Christopher J. Plack, Robert P. Carlyon

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Percent correct performance for discrimination of the fundamental frequency (F0) of a complex tone was measured as a function of the level of a background pink noise (using fixed values of the difference in F0, ΔF0) and compared with percent correct performance for detection of the complex tone in noise, again as a function of noise level. The tone included some low, resolvable components, but not the fundamental component. The results were used to test the hypothesis that the worsening in F0 discrimination with increasing noise level was caused by the reduced detectability of the tone rather than by reduced precision of the internal representation of F0. For small values of ΔF0, the hypothesis was rejected because measured performance fell below that predicted by the hypothesis. However, this was true only for high noise levels, within 2-4.5 dB of the level required for masked threshold. The results indicate that the mechanism for extracting the F0 of a complex tone with resolved harmonics is remarkably robust. They also indicate that adding a background noise to a complex tone containing resolved harmonics is not a good means for equating its pitch salience with that of a complex tone containing only unresolved harmonics. © 2006 Acoustical Society of America.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)957-965
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006


    • methods: Acoustic Stimulation
    • Adult
    • physiology: Auditory Threshold
    • Humans
    • Mathematical Computing
    • adverse effects: Noise
    • physiology: Pitch Discrimination
    • Psychoacoustics
    • Regression Analysis


    Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of noise on the detectability and fundamental frequency discrimination of complex tones'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this