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Mapping Acoustic and Semantic Dimensions of Auditory Perception

Kachlicka, Magdalena; (2021) Mapping Acoustic and Semantic Dimensions of Auditory Perception. Masters thesis (M.Phil), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Auditory categorisation is a function of sensory perception which allows humans to generalise across many different sounds present in the environment and classify them into behaviourally relevant categories. These categories cover not only the variance of acoustic properties of the signal but also a wide variety of sound sources. However, it is unclear to what extent the acoustic structure of sound is associated with, and conveys, different facets of semantic category information. Whether people use such data and what drives their decisions when both acoustic and semantic information about the sound is available, also remains unknown. To answer these questions, we used the existing methods broadly practised in linguistics, acoustics and cognitive science, and bridged these domains by delineating their shared space. Firstly, we took a model-free exploratory approach to examine the underlying structure and inherent patterns in our dataset. To this end, we ran principal components, clustering and multidimensional scaling analyses. At the same time, we drew sound labels’ semantic space topography based on corpus-based word embeddings vectors. We then built an LDA model predicting class membership and compared the model-free approach and model predictions with the actual taxonomy. Finally, by conducting a series of web-based behavioural experiments, we investigated whether acoustic and semantic topographies relate to perceptual judgements. This analysis pipeline showed that natural sound categories could be successfully predicted based on the acoustic information alone and that perception of natural sound categories has some acoustic grounding. Results from our studies help to recognise the role of physical sound characteristics and their meaning in the process of sound perception and give an invaluable insight into the mechanisms governing the machine-based and human classifications.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Qualification: M.Phil
Title: Mapping Acoustic and Semantic Dimensions of Auditory Perception
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
Keywords: auditory perception, categorization, similarity
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10130257
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