Binaural beat salience

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Previous studies of binaural beats have noted individual variability and response lability, but little attention has been paid to the salience of the binaural beat percept. The purpose of this study was to gauge the strength of the binaural beat percept by matching its salience to that of sinusoidal amplitude modulation (SAM), and to then compare rate discrimination for the two types of fluctuation. Rate discrimination was measured for standard rates of 4, 8, 16, and 32 Hz – all in the 500-Hz carrier region. Twelve normal-hearing adults participated in this study. The results indicated that discrimination acuity for binaural beats is similar to that for SAM tones whose depths of modulation have been adjusted to provide equivalent modulation salience. The matched-salience SAM tones had relatively shallow depths of modulation, suggesting that the perceptual strength of binaural beats is relatively weak, although all listeners perceived them. The Weber fraction for detection of an increase in binaural beat rate is roughly constant across beat rates, at least for rates above 4 Hz, as is rate discrimination for SAM tones.

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