Maria Chait (UCL) Measuring Auditory Salience

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Mon, 12/05/2016 – 10:30am12:00pm


CCRMA Seminar Room

Event Type: 

Hearing Seminar

What makes a sound salient? Why does a sound catch your attention? What about a sound distracts you from another task?

Understanding salience is one aspect of understanding the perceptual loop. Sounds catch our attention, we attend to them, and we try not to be distracted. We live in a complicated world, with many sounds that we want to pay attention to, and even more sounds that we don’t. What causes some sounds to be salient, and to pop out from the background?

I’m really happy that Dr. Maria Chait from University College London will lead a special *Monday* Hearing Seminar to talk about her work on understanding auditory saliency. Maria has been doing psychophysical, functional imaging, and eye-tracking studies to understand this problem. I’m especially intrigued by her approach to understanding saliency by measuring a sound’s ability to distract you from another task. (Work by others has looked whether sounds are detectable.) Do you think salient sounds are better measured by distractions, or detection?

Who: Dr. Maria Chait, University College London
What: Understanding Auditory Salience
When: Monday, December 5th at 10:30AM <<<< Special
Where: CCRMA Seminar Room (Top Floor)
Why: What causes a sound to pop out? Change your attention?

This is a special ***Monday*** seminar because of her travel schedule.

Come to CCRMA for an especially salient talk!!!
Measuring and understanding auditory salience and distraction
Dr. Maria Chait, University College London

I will present a series of recent and ongoing experiments from my laboratory focused on quantifying auditory salience and it’s reverse – distraction – in the context of complex acoustic scenes. The project is comprised of psychophysics, functional brain imaging and eye tracking work and employs a new stimulus paradigm, based on simple artificial, acoustic scenes designed to mimic challenges faced by listeners in natural environments, in which many sound sources are heard concurrently. To simulate ecologically relevant listening, Subjects are instructed to attended to the auditory sound-scape and detect occasional scene changes, manifested as the appearance or disappearance of objects. Distraction is measured by introducing a variety of scene interruptions (which participants are instructed to ignore). We demonstrate that even brief scene interruptions, which fleetingly capture attention, are often sufficient to make listeners miss important scene changes. Ongoing work is focused on using this behavioural signature of distraction to measure distractor salience (salient sounds = those sounds that are more perceptually distracting) and characterize those acoustic features that attract attention. Using EEG and Eye tracking we also aim to derive objective measures of distraction during the interruption, but before listeners provided a behavioural response). Can we quantify, based on brain or autonomic responses to the distractor, whether listeners successfully supressed the distractor?

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