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Investigating rhythmic expectation using sound lateralization and auditory averaging tasks

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Gabriela Pavarini.

Attempts to understand the degree to which predictive information in the temporal structure of events helps to optimise perception have increased over the past two decades. Experiments have shown that rhythmically predictable events are easier to detect, respond to and memorise (Nobre & Rohenkohl, 2014 for review). Whilst this work has facilitated the development of widely adopted theoretical models describing how rhythmic expectation gaits sensory information, the underlying data remains limited to a small number of experimental contexts and levels. This restraint limits the generalisability of past findings, making it unclear as to how near or far-reaching the perceptual benefits associated with rhythmic expectation go. In this talk I discuss how rhythmic expectation shapes perception and rapid (‘online’) perceptual decision-making and present my own attempts to expand the investigation beyond that of single target psychophysics. I start with two observations: Firstly, that many everyday decisions require tracking and averaging information associated with multiple events over time. Secondly, that timing is not often determined by an unrelated rhythmic pulse preceding an isolated event (as used in previous experiments), but is instead inherent within and between the different sources of information being used to make a decision. I then present data from two sound lateralization experiments that account for these observations and test the degree to which the rhythmic presentation of events biases auditory averaging decisions. The talk concludes with theoretical suggestions based on the findings and addresses the benefits and pitfalls of developing a new experimental paradigm in the field.

This talk is part of the The Centre for Music and Science (CMS) series.

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