Perceived duration of auditory oddballs: test of a novel pitch-window hypothesis

  • Elisa Kim Fromboluti
  • J. Devin McAuleyEmail author
Original Article


Unexpected oddball stimuli embedded within a series of otherwise identical standard stimuli tend to be overestimated in duration. The present study tested a pitch-window explanation of the auditory oddball effect on perceived duration in two experiments. For both experiments, participants listened to isochronous sequences consisting of a series of 400 Hz fixed-duration standard tones with an embedded oddball tone that differed in pitch and judged whether the variable-duration oddball was shorter or longer than the standard. Participants were randomly assigned to either a wide or narrow pitch-window condition, in which an anchor oddball was presented with high likelihood at either a far pitch (850 Hz) or a near pitch (550 Hz), respectively. In both pitch-window conditions, probe oddballs were presented with low likelihood at pitches that were either within or outside the frequency range established by the standard and anchor tones. Identical 700 Hz probe oddballs were perceived to be shorter in duration in the wide pitch-window condition than in the narrow pitch-window condition (Experiments 1 and 2), even when matching the overall frequency range of oddballs across conditions (Experiment 2). Results support the proposed pitch-window hypothesis, but are inconsistent with both enhanced processing and predictive coding accounts of the oddball effect.


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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