Psychometric functions for pure-tone frequency discrimination

Huanping Dai, Christophe Micheyl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The form of the psychometric function (PF) for auditory frequency discrimination is of theoretical interest and practical importance. In this study, PFs for pure-tone frequency discrimination were measured for several standard frequencies (200-8000 Hz) and levels [35-85 dB sound pressure level (SPL)] in normal-hearing listeners. The proportion-correct data were fitted using a cumulative-Gaussian function of the sensitivity index, d′, computed as a power transformation of the frequency difference, Δf. The exponent of the power function corresponded to the slope of the PF on log(d′)-log(Δf) coordinates. The influence of attentional lapses on PF-slope estimates was investigated. When attentional lapses were not taken into account, the estimated PF slopes on log(d′)-log(Δf) coordinates were found to be significantly lower than 1, suggesting a nonlinear relationship between d′ and Δf. However, when lapse rate was included as a free parameter in the fits, PF slopes were found not to differ significantly from 1, consistent with a linear relationship between d′ and Δf. This was the case across the wide ranges of frequencies and levels tested in this study. Therefore, spectral and temporal models of frequency discrimination must account for a linear relationship between d′ and Δf across a wide range of frequencies and levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-272
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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