Perceptual-learning evidence for inter-onset-interval- and frequency-specific processing of fast rhythms

Ruijing Ning*, Samuel J. Trosman, Andrew T. Sabin, Beverly A. Wright

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Rhythm is fundamental to music and speech, yet little is known about how even simple rhythmic patterns are processed. Here we investigated the processing of isochronous rhythms in the short inter-onset-interval (IOI) range (IOIs < 250–400 ms) using a perceptual-learning paradigm. Trained listeners (n=8) practiced anisochrony detection with a 100-ms IOI marked by 1-kHz tones, 720 trials per day for 7 days. Between pre- and post-training tests, trained listeners improved significantly more than controls (no training; n=8) on the anisochrony-detection condition that the trained listeners practiced. However, the learning on anisochrony detection did not generalize to temporal-interval discrimination with the trained IOI (100 ms) and marker frequency (1 kHz) or to anisochrony detection with an untrained marker frequency (4 kHz or variable frequency vs. 1 kHz), and generalized negatively to anisochrony detection with an untrained IOI (200 ms vs. 100 ms). Further, pre-training thresholds were correlated among nearly all of the conditions with the same IOI (100-ms IOIs), but not between conditions with different IOIs (100-ms vs. 200-ms IOIs). Thus, it appears that some task-, IOI-, and frequency-specific processes are involved in fast-rhythm processing. These outcomes are most consistent with a holistic rhythm-processing model in which a holistic “image” of the stimulus is compared to a stimulus-specific template.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-542
Number of pages10
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 15 2019


  • Perceptual learning
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Temporal processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Linguistics and Language


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