Perception & Psychophysics

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 320-324

First online:

Disinhibition in pitch memory

  • Diana DeutschAffiliated withCenter for Human Information Processing, University of California
  • , John FeroeAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematics, University of California


Recognition of the pitch of a tone is disrupted by the interpolation of other tones during the retention interval. The disruptive effect of an interpolated tone varies systematically as a function of its pitch relationship to the tone to be remembered, and is maximal at a 2/3-tone separation. When such a tone is interpolated, the interpolation in addition of a further tone that is 2/3 tone removed from this disruptive tone (and 4/3 tone removed from the tone to be remembered) causes recognition of the first tone substantially to return. When recognition performance is plotted as a function of the pitch relationship between these two interpolated tones, the results accord well with a model assuming mutual inhibitory interactions between pitch memory elements.