Modulation detection interference: Effects of concurrent and sequential streaming

Andrew J. Oxenham, Torsten Dau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The presence of amplitude fluctuations in one frequency region can interfere with our ability to detect similar fluctuations in another (remote) frequency region. This effect is known as modulation detection interference (MDI). Gating the interfering and target sounds asynchronously is known to lead to a reduction in MDI, presumably because the two sounds become perceptually segregated. The first experiment examined the relative effects of carrier and modulator gating asynchrony in producing a release from MDI. The target carder was a 900-ms, 4.3-kHz sinusoid, modulated in amplitude by a 500-ms, 16-Hz sinusoid, with 200-ms unmodulated fringes preceding and following the modulation. The interferer (masker) was a 1-kHz sinusoid, modulated by a narrowband noise with a 16-Hz bandwidth, centered around 16 Hz. Extending the masker carrier for 200 ms before and after the signal carrier reduced MDI, regardless of whether the target and masker modulators were gated synchronously or were gated with onset and offset asynchronies of 200 ms. Similarly, when the carriers were gated synchronously, asynchronous gating of the modulators did not produce a release from MDI. The second experiment measured MDI with a synchronous target and masker and investigated the effect of adding a series of precursor tones, which were designed to promote the forming of a perceptual stream with the masker, thereby leaving the target perceptually isolated. Four modulated or unmodulated precursor tones presented at the masker frequency were sufficient to completely eliminate MDI. The results support the idea that MDI is due to a perceptual grouping of the masker and target, and show that conditions promoting sufficient perceptual segregation of the masker and target can lead to a total elimination of MDI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)402-408
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001

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