Pitch Perception in Chinchillas (Chinchilla laniger): Stimulus Generalization Using Rippled Noise

William P. Shofner, William A. Yost, William M. Whitmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Rippled noises evoke the perception of pitch in human listeners. Infinitely iterated rippled noise (IIRN) is generated when wideband noise (WBN) is delayed, attenuated, and added to the original WBN through either a positive (+) or a negative (-) feedback loop. The pitch of IIRN[+] is matched to the reciprocal of the delay, whereas the pitch of IIRN[-] for the same delay is an octave lower. Chinchillas (Chinchilla laniger) were trained to discriminate IIRN[+] with a 4-ms delay from IIRN[+] with a 2-ms delay and then tested in a stimulus generalization paradigm with IIRN[+] at delays between 2 and 4 ms. Systematic gradients in behavioral response occurred along the dimension of delay, suggesting that a perceptual dimension corresponding to pitch exists for IIRN[+]. Behavioral responses to IIRN[-] test stimuli were more variable among chinchillas, suggesting that IIRN[-] did not evoke similar pitches relative to IIRN[+]. Systematic gradients in behavioral response were observed when IIRN[-] test stimuli were presented in the context of other IIRN[-] stimuli. Thus, other perceptual cues such as timbre may dominate the pitch cues when IIRN[-] test stimuli are presented in the context of IIRN[+] stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)428-439
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2007



  • chinchilla
  • pitch perception
  • rippled noise
  • stimulus generalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)

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