Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics

, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp 533–542 | Cite as

Perceptual-learning evidence for inter-onset-interval- and frequency-specific processing of fast rhythms

  • Ruijing NingEmail author
  • Samuel J. Trosman
  • Andrew T. Sabin
  • Beverly A. Wright


Rhythm is fundamental to music and speech, yet little is known about how even simple rhythmic patterns are processed. Here we investigated the processing of isochronous rhythms in the short inter-onset-interval (IOI) range (IOIs < 250–400 ms) using a perceptual-learning paradigm. Trained listeners (n=8) practiced anisochrony detection with a 100-ms IOI marked by 1-kHz tones, 720 trials per day for 7 days. Between pre- and post-training tests, trained listeners improved significantly more than controls (no training; n=8) on the anisochrony-detection condition that the trained listeners practiced. However, the learning on anisochrony detection did not generalize to temporal-interval discrimination with the trained IOI (100 ms) and marker frequency (1 kHz) or to anisochrony detection with an untrained marker frequency (4 kHz or variable frequency vs. 1 kHz), and generalized negatively to anisochrony detection with an untrained IOI (200 ms vs. 100 ms). Further, pre-training thresholds were correlated among nearly all of the conditions with the same IOI (100-ms IOIs), but not between conditions with different IOIs (100-ms vs. 200-ms IOIs). Thus, it appears that some task-, IOI-, and frequency-specific processes are involved in fast-rhythm processing. These outcomes are most consistent with a holistic rhythm-processing model in which a holistic “image” of the stimulus is compared to a stimulus-specific template.


Temporal processing Perceptual learning Psychoacoustics 



We thank Paul Reber and Sazzad Nassir for their helpful comments on a preliminary draft of this paper. This work was sponsored in part by NIH/NIDCD, by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Biological Technologies Office (BTO) TNT program under the auspices of Dr. Doug Weber and Tristan McClure-Begley through the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, Pacific Grant/Contract No. N66001-17-2-4011, and by a Northwestern University Undergraduate Summer Research Grant.


Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Biological Technologies Office (BTO).


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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruijing Ning
    • 1
    Email author
  • Samuel J. Trosman
    • 1
  • Andrew T. Sabin
    • 1
  • Beverly A. Wright
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Communication Sciences and DisordersNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  2. 2.Knowles Hearing CenterNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  3. 3.Northwestern University Institute for NeuroscienceNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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