Historically, auditory pitch has been considered to be a function of acoustic frequency, with only a small effect being due to absolute intensity. Yet we found that when tones are Doppler shifted so that frequency drops, the pitch dramatically rises and falls, closely following the pattern of dynamic intensity change. We show that continuous intensity change can produce pitch variation comparable to a frequency change approaching an octave. This effect opposes and is an order of magnitude larger than the well-known effect of discrete intensity change in the frequency range employed. We propose that the perceptual interaction of continuous changes in pitch and loudness reflects a natural correlation between changes in frequency and intensity that is neurally encoded to facilitate the parsing and processing of meaningful acoustic patterns.
Alain, C. (1993). The relation among fundamental frequency, intensity, and duration varies with accentuation.Journal of the Acoustical Society of America,944, 2434–2436.
ANSI (1994).Acoustical Terminology S1 No. American National Standards Institute.
Ashmead, D. H., Davis, D. L., &Northington, A. (1995). Contribution of listeners’ approaching motion to auditory distance perception.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance,21, 239–256.
Bernstein, J. (1993).Cranks, quarks, and the cosmos. New York: Basic Books.
Bismarck, G. von (1974). Timbre of steady state sounds: A factorial investigation of its verbal attributes.Acustica,30, 146–159.
Boltz, M. G. (1998). Tempo discrimination of musical patterns: Effects due to pitch and rhythmic structure.Perception & Psychophysics,60, 1357–1373.
Bregman, A. (1994).Auditory scene analysis: Perceptual organization of sound. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, Bradford Books.
Brenner, M., Doherty, E. T., &Shipp, T. (1994). Speech measures indicating workload demand.Aviation, Space, & Environmental Medicine,651, 21–26.
Cutler, A., &Butterfield, S. (1991). Word boundary cues in clear speech: A supplementary report.Speech Communication,104, 335–353.
Doppler, J. C. (1842). Über das farbige Licht der Doppelsterne und einiger anderer Gestirne des Himmels. InVersuch einer das Bradley’sche aberrations-theorem als integrirrenden Theil in sich schliessenden allgemeineren Theorie (p. 465). Prague: K. Böhm Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften.
Evans, C. S., Gaioni, S. J., &McBeath, M. K. (1985). A microcomputer system for the measurement of avian heart rate.Bird Behavior,6, 41–45.
Fisher, C., &Tokura, H. (1995). The given-new contract in speech to infants.Journal of Memory & Language,34, 287–310.
Gaioni, S. J., &Evans, C. S. (1989). Perception of the frequency characteristics of the distress calls by mallard ducklings.Behaviour,111, 13–33.
Garner, W. R. (1974).The processing of information and structure. Potomac, MD: Erlbaum.
Goldstein, J. L. (1973). An optimum processor theory for the central formation of the pitch of complex tones.Journal of the Acoustical Society of America,54, 1496–1516.
Grau, J. W., &Kemler-Nelson, D. G. (1988). The distinction between integral and separable dimensions: Evidence for the integrality of pitch and loudness.Journal of Experimental Psychology: General,117, 347–370.
Grey, J. M. (1977). Multidimensional perceptual scaling of musical timbres.Journal of the Acoustical Society of America,61, 1270–1277.
Gulick, W. L. (1971).Hearing: Physiology and psychophysics. New York: Oxford University Press.
Hartmann, W. M. (1988). Pitch perception and the segregation and integration of auditory entities. In G.M. Edelman, W. E. Gall, & W. M. Cowan (Eds.),Auditory function (pp. 623–645). New York: Wiley.
Hartmann, W. M. (1996). Pitch, periodicity and auditory organization.Journal of the Acoustical Society of America,100, 3491–3502.
Hassett, S. (1999).Just discriminable change of velocity of a simulated moving sound source. Unpublished undergraduate thesis, Ohio State University.
Helmholtz, H. L. F. von (1954). The sensations of tone as a physiological basis for the theory of music (2nd English ed.; A. J. Ellis, Trans.). New York: Dover. (Original work published 1855)
Jorasz, U., &Dooley, G. J. (1996). The perceptibility of the frequency drop caused by the Doppler effect for simulated sound source motion in the median plane.Archives of Acoustics,21, 149–157.
Lee, D. N. (1990). Getting around with light or sound. In R. Warren & A.H. Wertheim (Eds.),Perception and control of self motion: Resources for ecological psychology (pp. 487–505). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Lee, D. N., &Simmons, J. A. (1995). Steering by echolocation: A paradigm of ecological acoustics.Journal of Comparative Physiology A,176, 347–354.
Lee, D. N., van der Weel, F.R., Hitchcock, T., Matejowsky, E., &Pettigrew, J. D. (1992). Common principle of guidance by echolocation and vision.Journal of Comparative Physiology,171, 563–571.
Lipkin, R. (1995). Device measures speed of white light.Science News,148, 215.
Lufti, R. A., &Wang, W. (1999). Correlational analysis of acoustic cues for the discrimination of auditory motion.Journal of the Acoustical Society of America,106, 919–928.
Melara, R. D., Marks, L. E., &Potts, B. C. (1993). Early-holistic processing or dimensional similarity?Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance,19, 1114–1120.
Neuhoff, J. G. (1998). A perceptual bias for rising tones.Nature.395, 123–124.
Neuhoff, J. G. (1999). Perception of changes in loudness: Reply to Canèvet et al.Nature,398, 673–674.
Neuhoff, J. G. (2001) An adaptive bias in the perception of looming auditory motion.Ecological Psychology,13, 87–110.
Neuhoff, J. G., &McBeath, M. K. (1996). The Doppler illusion: The influence of dynamic intensity on perceived pitch.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance,22, 970–985.
Neuhoff, J. G. &McBeath, M. K. (1997). Overcoming naive mental models in explaining the Doppler shift: An illusion creates confusion.American Journal of Physics,65, 618–621.
Neuhoff, J. G., McBeath, M. K., &Wanzie, W. C. (1999). Dynamic frequency change influences loudness perception: A central, analytic process.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance,25, 1050–1059.
Pollack, I. (1968). Auditory pulsed Doppler discrimination.Journal of the Acoustical Society of America,44, 592–598.
Repp, B. H. (1995). Detectability of duration and intensity increments in melody tones: A partial connection between music perception and performance.Perception & Psychophysics,57, 1217–1232.
Rogers, W. L., &Bregman, A. S. (1998). Cumulation of the tendency to segregate auditory streams: Resetting by changes in location and loudness.Perception & Psychophysics,60, 1216–1277.
Rosenblum, L. D., Carello, C., &Pastore, R. E. (1987). Relative effectiveness of three stimulus variables for locating a moving sound source.Perception,16, 175–186.
Rosenblum, L. D., Gordon, M. S., &Jarquin, L. (2000). Echolocating distance by moving and stationary listeners.Ecological Psychology,12, 181–206.
Russell, M. K., &Turvey, M. T. (1999). Auditory perception of unimpeded passage.Ecological Psychology,11, 175–188.
Saberi, K., &Hafter, E. R. (1995). A common neural code for frequency- and amplitude-modulated sounds.Nature,374, 537–539.
Scharf, B., &Houtsma, A. J. M. (1986). Audition: II. Loudness, pitch, localization, aural distortion, pathology. In K. R. Boff, L. Kaufman, & J. P. Thomas (Eds.),Handbook of perception and human performance (pp. 15-1 to 15-60). New York: Wiley.
Scharine, A. A., & McBeath, M. K. (2001, April).Evidence for a correlation between frequency and intensity. Paper presented at the 81st Annual Convention of the Western Psychological Association, Lahaina, Hawaii.
Schenkman, B. N., &Jansson, G. (1986). The detection and localization of objects by the blind with the aid of long-cane tapping sounds.Human Factors,28, 607–618.
Shaw, B. K., McGowan, R. S., &Turvey, M. T. (1991). An acoustic variable specifying time to contact.Ecological Psychology,3, 253–261.
Snow, W. B. (1936). Changes of pitch with loudness at low frequencies.Journal of the Acoustical Society of America,8, 14–19.
Speaks, C. E. (1992).Introduction to sound: Acoustics for the hearing and speech sciences. San Diego: Singular Publishing Group.
Stevens, S. S. (1935). The relation of pitch to intensity.Journal of the Acoustical Society of America,6, 150–154.
Stoffregen, T. A., &Pittenger, J. B. (1995). Human echolocation as a basic form of perception and action.Ecological Psychology,7, 181–216.
Tekman, H. G. (1997). Interactions of perceived intensity, duration, and pitch in pure tone sequences.Music Perception,14, 281–294.
Tekman, H. G. (1998). Effects of melodic accents on perception of intensity.Music Perception,15, 391–401.
Terhardt, E. (1974). Pitch of pure tones: Its relation to intensity. In E. Zwicker & E. Terhardt (Eds.),Facts and models in hearing (pp. 353–360). Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.
Tian, B., &Rauschecker, J. P. (1994). Processing frequency-modulated sounds in the cat’s anterior auditory field.Journal of Neurophysiology,71, 1959–1975.
Verschuure, J., &van Meeteren, A. A. (1975). The effect of intensity on pitch.Acustica,32, 33–44.
Wightman, F. L., &Jenison, R. (1995). Auditory spatial layout. In W. Epstein & S. Rogers (Eds.),Perception of space and motion: Handbook of perception and cognition (pp. 365–400). San Diego: Academic Press.
Zelick, R., Rose, G., &Rand, A. S. (1991). Differential response to frequency modulation rate and direction by the neotropical frog, Physalaemus pustulosus.Animal Behaviour,42, 413–421.
This work was supported in part by a grant from Interval Research Corporation to M.K.M., a grant from the National Science Foundation to J.G.N., and a faculty development grant from the College of Wooster.
About this article
Cite this article
Mcbeath, M.K., Neuhoff, J.G. The Doppler effect is not what you think it is: Dramatic pitch change due to dynamic intensity change. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 9, 306–313 (2002). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03196286