Institut de Neurosciences Cognitives et Intégratives d'Aquitaine (UMR5287)

Aquitaine Institute for Cognitive and Integrative Neuroscience

Université de Bordeaux

Zone nord Bat 2 2ème étage
146, rue Léo Saignat
33076 Bordeaux cedex


Supervisory authorities

CNRS Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes Université de Bordeaux

Our partners

Neurocampus Unitéde Formation de Biologie


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Home > Teams > Auditory perception (C. SEMAL)


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We work on auditory perception and memory with the tools of psychophysics. Our recent research has been concerned with:

harmonic fusion
A sum of simultaneous pure tones one octave apart is normally heard as a single sound, even though the tones are spatially separated in the cochlea. In addition, two successive pure tones one octave apart are perceived as similar in pitch. Are these two phenomena directly related? We provided evidence against this hypothesis. More generally, our work suggests that the fusion of harmonically related pure tones does not occur after a measurement of their pitches. We also found that sensitivity to harmonicity may be reduced in case of cochlear damage, but is still observable in hearing-impaired listeners showing a strongly degraded frequency discrimination ability.

auditory divided attention
Can people attend simultaneously to two concurrent and perceptually segregated auditory streams? We performed experiments suggesting that this is indeed the case, to some extent.

enhancement phenomena in auditory perception
When a mixture of tones is heard twice in a succession with an added tone in the second presentation, the added tone stands out perceptually; this "enhancement" of spectral increments by the auditory system is well-known. We found that the auditory system also enhances tones in consequence of frequency shifts, even when the size of the shift is limited to a few percent. This form of enhancement apparently depends on a specific mechanism, not involved in "traditional" enhancement.

the perceptual salience of a sound as a function of the shape of its amplitude envelope
It has been reported that sounds with a long onset followed by a more abrupt offset ("ramped" sounds) tend to be perceived as louder than their temporal inversions ("damped" sounds). We are finding, however, that the perceptual salience of damped sounds in a mixture of ramped sounds is markedly greater than the salience of ramped sounds in a mixture of damped sounds.

echoic memory in children and adults with autism spectrum disorders
(in collaboration with Beverly A. Wright, Northwestern University)

Team Members :