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Everyday Sound Categorization

Abstract

This chapter reviews theories and empirical research on the ways in which people spontaneously and effortlessly categorize sounds into meaningful categories to make sense of their environment. We begin with an overview of prominent theories of categorization in the psychological literature, followed by data collection and analysis methods used in empirical research on categorization with human participants. We then focus on auditory categorization, synthesizing the main findings of studies on isolated sound events as well as complex sound scenes. Finally, we review recently proposed taxonomies for everyday sounds and conclude by providing directions for integrating insights from cognitive psychology into the design and evaluation of computational systems.

Keywords

  • Everyday sounds
  • Categorization
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Soundscape
  • Prototype theory
  • Linguistic labelling
  • Similarity
  • Taxonomies
  • Holistic perception
  • Top-down processes
  • Context

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Notes

  1. 1.

    It should be noted that Rosch talks about attributes rather than features, but we use features as distinctive characteristics, properties, or quality for the sake of consistency in this chapter (although features itself has multiple meaning within this book, e.g., acoustic features in Chap. 4).

  2. 2.

    Based among other things on the evidence for top-down activation in early stages of visual processing (e.g., for figure-ground segmentation).

  3. 3.

    Here, theory is understood to mean any organized system of knowledge, “folk” as well as scientific theories.

  4. 4.

    Children also use thematic categories of entities formed on an associative basis (e.g., dog and leash). Members of thematic categories are not similar and do not share many features but they are often spatially and temporally contiguous and play complementary roles (contrary to members of script categories which play the same role).

  5. 5.

    This special telephone number provides access to non-emergency municipal services (comments, complaints, questions or requests).

  6. 6.

    For example, www.montrealsoundmap.com/.

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Acknowledgements

Dan Ellis, Tuomas Virtanen, Mark Plumbley, Guillaume Lemaitre, Julian Rice, Christopher Trudeau and Daniel Steele for insightful comments on previous versions of this chapter.

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Guastavino, C. (2018). Everyday Sound Categorization. In: Virtanen, T., Plumbley, M., Ellis, D. (eds) Computational Analysis of Sound Scenes and Events. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-63450-0_7

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