Connecting Correlograms to Neurophysiology and Psychoacoustics

Malcolm Slaney

Interval Research Corporation
1801 Page Mill Road; Building C; Palo Alto, CA 94304 USA

Paper presented at the XIth International Symposium on Hearing, 1-6 August, 1997, Belton Woods, Grantham, Lincolnshire, England. This work will be a chapter in a book called "Psychophysical and Physiological Advances in Hearing" (Editors A.R. Palmer, A. Rees, A.Q. Summerfield and R. Meddis) available from Whurr Publishers in 1998.


Over the years, many researchers have used auditory images to model auditory perception. A correlogram is an auditory image that measures the temporal regularity of an auditory stimulus. A correlogram represents an auditory stimulus as a function of three variables: cochlear position or best frequency versus short time periodicity, as a function of time. Psychoacousticians since Licklider (1951) have used the correlogram to model pitch perception and, more recently, auditory scene analysis.

We know that the auditory system encodes temporal regularity precisely. That it does is not surprising; many systems produce a periodic response to a periodic input. Yet the auditory system goes out of its way to preserve the temporal aspects of the signal. What is the brain doing with this temporal precision?

I hypothesize that the auditory system builds a representation of sound that distinguishes the temporal aspects of the sound. There are many ways to compute a correlogram. I describe three approaches and test their performance with three different auditory tasks.

In this paper, I describe the role of correlograms in explaining human and animal auditory perception. Section 2 explains what the neurophysiological data tell us about temporal processing. Section 3 describes three mechanisms for measuring the temporal regularity of a signal. Section 4 discusses the response of three correlogram models to well-known tests that are based on neurophysiology and pitch perception. Conclusions are presented in Section 5.

Examples from the paper

Coming soon...