Perception & Psychophysics

, Volume 30, Issue 6, pp 565–572 | Cite as

Accents in equitone sequences

  • Dirk-Jan Povel
  • Hans Okkerman


Equitone sequences are defined as sequences of tones that are identical in all respects: frequency, spectral composition, intensity, and duration. The only parameter varied in these sequences is the time-interval between tones. In such sequences, clear accents are perceived. This paper describes accent perception in equitone sequences containing two alternating intervals; such sequences are perceived as consisting of repeating groups of two tones. An accent is heard on the first tone of a group if the difference between the intervals is about 5% to 10%. If the difference is made bigger, the accent is heard on the last tone of the group; this latter accent is considerably stronger than the accent previously heard on the first tone. In a number of experiments, the conditions under which the two types of accents occur were investigated. From these experiments, it was tentatively concluded that the accent on the last tone is heard because that tone, since it is followed by a longer interval, can be processed more completely. This “intervalproduced” accent indeed occurs only if the between-group interval is considerably longer than the within-group interval and if the latter does not exceed a duration of about 250 msec. The effect is slightly dependent on tone duration. The interval-produced accent can be balanced if the nonaccented tone is increased by about 4 dB in intensity. This shows that the effect is quite robust. The specific type of accentuation reported here might explain some rhythmical phenomena, examples of which are given.


Temporal Summation Acoustical Society ofAmerica Orienting Response Energy Integration Silent Interval 
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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dirk-Jan Povel
    • 1
  • Hans Okkerman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Experimental PsychologyUniversity of NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands

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