The Psychophysics Psyber Lab




Evidence that the energy detector is not an appropriate model for Gaussian noise detection in humans

Lapsley Miller, J. A., Drga, V., and Miller, L. M.

February 2001
Poster presentation at the 2001 ARO conference
Assoc. Res. Otolaryngol Abs. 24, 250.


The energy detector is usually proposed as the ideal observer for the detection of narrow-band short-duration Gaussian noise, masked by wider-band Gaussian noise. For some values of the bandwidth-duration (WT) product, however, the energy detector (filter, square-law rectifier, and true integrator) is not as good as a full-linear detector (filter, linear rectifier, and true integrator). Because human decisions in detection tasks are subject to inconsistency, performance rarely approaches that of an ideal observer. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, to evaluate whether the energy detector is appropriate for modeling human detection. By repeating a noise-in-noise detection experiment multiple times using the same stimuli, then using group operating characteristic (GOC) analysis and function-of-replications-combined estimation (FORCE) analysis, the effects of observer inconsistency are minimized and asymptotic error-free performance estimated, respectively. At least for one combination of noise bandwidth and duration, we show that a human observer can do better than the energy detector and do as well as a full-linear detector, once error due to inconsistency is removed. This finding implies that the energy detector is not necessarily an appropriate model for the task of noise-in-noise detection in humans.

View poster in pdf format (803 kB).

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