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Baugh AT, MJ Ryan, XE Bernal, AS Rand, MA Bee
Behavioral Neuroscience, Volume 130, Pages 62–74 (doi: 10.1037/bne0000115)
Publication year: 2016

Abstract  In humans and some nonhuman vertebrates, a sound containing brief silent gaps can be rendered perceptually continuous by inserting noise into the gaps. This so-called “continuity illusion” arises from a phenomenon known as “auditory induction” and results in the perception of complete auditory objects despite fragmentary or incomplete acoustic information. Previous studies of auditory induction in gray treefrogs (Hyla versicolor and H. chrysoscelis) have demonstrated an absence of this phenomenon. These treefrog species produce pulsatile (noncontinuous) vocalizations, whereas studies of auditory induction in other taxa, including humans, often present continuous sounds (e.g., frequency-modulated sweeps). This study investigated the continuity illusion in a frog (Physalaemus pustulosus) with an advertisement vocalization that is naturally continuous and thus similar to the tonal sweeps used in human psychophysical studies of auditory induction. In a series of playback experiments, female subjects were presented with sets of stimuli that included complete calls, calls with silent gaps, and calls with silent gaps filled with noise. The results failed to provide evidence of auditory induction. Current evidence, therefore, suggests that mammals and birds experience auditory induction, but frogs may not. This emerging pattern of taxonomic differences is considered in light of potential methodological, neurophysiological, and functional explanations.