Sensory and cognitive factors in judgments of loudness

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Presented 1,000 Hz tones at equal or unequal intensities to both ears of 15 young adults. In a binaural-summation experiment, the presentation of components was simultaneous, the auditory system integrated the components automatically, and Ss judged the loudness of the unitary sensation. In 2 cognitive-summation experiments, the presentation of components was successive, and 15 Ss had to integrate the 2 sensations consciously to judge their “total loudness.” Results of all 3 experiments are consistent with models of linear summation of “loudness,” but the loudness scales differed in the 2 tasks: The scales that underlie binaural summation and cognitive summation were nonlinearly related. This outcome suggests 2 nested processes: (a) The auditory system transduces stimulus energy to loudness sensations by means of a nonlinear function, and (b) tasks that require Ss to judge combinational relations between sensations may impose additional nonlinear transformations on the sensations before the latter are combined. (31 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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