Auditory streaming and bistability paradigm extended to a dynamic environment

Áine Byrne, John Rinzel, James Rankin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We explore stream segregation with temporally modulated acoustic features using behavioral experiments and modelling. The auditory streaming paradigm in which alternating high- A and low-frequency tones B appear in a repeating ABA-pattern, has been shown to be perceptually bistable for extended presentations (order of minutes). For a fixed, repeating stimulus, perception spontaneously changes (switches) at random times, every 2–15 s, between an integrated interpretation with a galloping rhythm and segregated streams. Streaming in a natural auditory environment requires segregation of auditory objects with features that evolve over time. With the relatively idealized ABA-triplet paradigm, we explore perceptual switching in a non-static environment by considering slowly and periodically varying stimulus features. Our previously published model captures the dynamics of auditory bistability and predicts here how perceptual switches are entrained, tightly locked to the rising and falling phase of modulation. In psychoacoustic experiments we find that entrainment depends on both the period of modulation and the intrinsic switch characteristics of individual listeners. The extended auditory streaming paradigm with slowly modulated stimulus features presented here will be of significant interest for future imaging and neurophysiology experiments by reducing the need for subjective perceptual reports of ongoing perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107807
JournalHearing Research
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Auditory streaming
  • Bistability
  • Entrainment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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