The Perception of Simple Auditory Rhythmic Sequences

The perceptual organization of rhythmic stimuli can be considered to be a paradigm for the perception of structure in time. An experiment is described in which subjects were asked to organize simple auditory rhythmic patterns. These data are presented as distributions of responses within subjects and across subjects. A fine temporal resolution histogram plot of within subject data provides some supporting evidence for a quantum theory for the perception of time. A latent variable structural equation model of Garner's run and gap principle is fit to these data. The hypothesis that the length of time a subject requires to respond to a rhythm influences the perceived structure is tested and it is found that latency to response has a significant but negligible effect on the perceived structure. A second set of predictions is generated from a model based on minimization of redundancy as defined in information theoretic terms, and two models based on these predictions are fit to the data. It is found that one of the information theoretic models provides a much better fit to the experimental data than do the run--gap models. A third set of predictions is generated from an energy transfer calculation and two models based on these predictions are fit to the data. One of these two models fits the data somewhat better than the run--gap model, but not nearly so well as the entropy model. Model parameters are compared across individuals and within individuals to test whether there is a discernible difference between musically trained and musically untrained individuals. It is found that the estimated prediction parameters from the run--gap model provide a good discriminating function for discerning musicians from non--musicians within the sample.