The Doppler effect is not what you think it is: Dramatic pitch change due to dynamic intensity change

Michael McBeath, John G. Neuhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Historically, auditory pitch has been considered to be a function of acoustic frequency, with only a small effect being due to absolute intensity. Yet we found that when tones are Doppler shifted so that frequency drops, the pitch dramatically rises and falls, closely following the pattern of dynamic intensity change. We show that continuous intensity change can produce pitch variation comparable to a frequency change approaching an octave. This effect opposes and is an order of magnitude larger than the well-known effect of discrete intensity change in the frequency range employed. We propose that the perceptual interaction of continuous changes in pitch and loudness reflects a natural correlation between changes in frequency and intensity that is neurally encoded to facilitate the parsing and processing of meaningful acoustic patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-313
Number of pages8
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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