Recalibrating the Auditory System: A Speed-Accuracy Analysis of Intensity Perception

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Review Article

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Recalibration in loudness perception refers to an adaptation-like change in relative responsiveness to auditory signals of different sound frequencies. Listening to relatively weak tones at one frequency and stronger tones at another makes the latter appear softer. The authors showed recalibration not only in magnitude estimates of loudness but also in simple response times (RTs) and choice RTs. RTs depend on sound intensity and may serve as surrogates for loudness. Most important, the speeded classification paradigm also provided measures of errors. RTs and errors can serve jointly to distinguish changes in sensitivity from changes in response criterion. The changes in choice RT under different recalibrating conditions were not accompanied by changes in error rates predicted by the speed-accuracy trade-off. These results lend support to the hypothesis that loudness recalibration does not result from shifting decisional criteria but instead reflects a change in the underlying representation of auditory intensity.



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