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Integration of Acoustical Information in the Perception of Impacted Sound Sources: The Role of Information Accuracy and Exploitability


Sound sources are perceived by integrating information from multiple acoustical features. The factors influencing the integration of information are largely unknown. We measured how the perceptual weighting of different features varies with the accuracy of information and with a listener's ability to exploit it. Participants judged the hardness of two objects whose interaction generates an impact sound: a hammer and a sounding object. In a first discrimination experiment, trained listeners focused on the most accurate information, although with greater difficulty when perceiving the hammer. We inferred a limited exploitability for the most accurate hammer-hardness information. In a second rating experiment, listeners focused on the most accurate information only when estimating sounding-object hardness. In a third rating experiment, we synthesized sounds by independently manipulating source properties that covaried in Experiments 1 and 2: sounding-object hardness and impact properties. Sounding-object hardness perception relied on the most accurate acoustical information, whereas impact-properties influenced more strongly hammer hardness perception. Overall, perceptual weight increased with the accuracy of acoustical information, although information that was not easily exploited was perceptually secondary, even if accurate