Pitch matches between unresolved complex tones differing by a single interpulse interval

Christopher J. Plack, Louise J. White

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The experiment compared the pitches of complex tones consisting of unresolved harmonics. The fundamental frequency (F0) of the tones was 250 Hz and the harmonics were bandpass filtered between 5500 and 7500 Hz. Two 20-ms complex-tone bursts were presented, separated by a brief gap. The gap was an integer number of periods of the waveform: 0, 4, or 8 ms. The envelope phase of the second tone burst was shifted, such that the interpulse interval (IPI) across the gap was reduced or increased by 0.25 or 0.75 periods (1 or 3 ms). A 'no shift' control was also included, where the IPI was held at an integer number of periods. Pitch matches were obtained by varying the F0 of a comparison tone with the same temporal parameters as the standard but without the shift. Relative to the no-shift control, the variations in IPI produced substantial pitch shifts when there was no gap between the bursts, but little effect was seen for gaps of 4 or 8 ms. However, for some conditions with the same IPI in the shifted interval, an increase in the IPI of the comparison interval from 4 to 8 ms (gap increased from 0 to 4 ms) changed the pitch match. The presence of a pitch shift suggests that the pitch mechanism is integrating information across the two tone bursts. It is argued that the results are consistent with a pitch mechanism employing a long integration time for continuous stimuli that is reset in response to temporal discontinuities. For a 250-Hz F0, an 8-ms IPI may be sufficient for resetting. Pitch models based on a spectral analysis of the simulated neural spike train, on an autocorrelation of the spike train, and on the mean rate of pitch pulses, all failed to account for the observed pitch matches. (C) 2000 Acoustical Society of America.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)696-705
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2000


    • Adult
    • physiology: Cochlear Nerve
    • Humans
    • physiology: Pitch Perception
    • Time Factors


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