Temporal predictability enhances auditory detection.
Lawrance EL., Harper NS., Cooke JE., Schnupp JW.
Periodic stimuli are common in natural environments and are ecologically relevant, for example, footsteps and vocalizations. This study reports a detectability enhancement for temporally cued, periodic sequences. Target noise bursts (embedded in background noise) arriving at the time points which followed on from an introductory, periodic "cue" sequence were more easily detected (by ∼1.5 dB SNR) than identical noise bursts which randomly deviated from the cued temporal pattern. Temporal predictability and corresponding neuronal "entrainment" have been widely theorized to underlie important processes in auditory scene analysis and to confer perceptual advantage. This is the first study in the auditory domain to clearly demonstrate a perceptual enhancement of temporally predictable, near-threshold stimuli.