Lower pitch is larger, yet falling pitches shrink: Interaction of pitch change and size change in speeded discrimination

Zohar Eitan, Asi Schupak, Alex Gotler, Lawrence E. Marks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Experiments using diverse paradigms, including speeded discrimination, indicate that pitch and visually-perceived size interact perceptually, and that higher pitch is congruent with smaller size. While nearly all of these studies used static stimuli, here we examine the interaction of dynamic pitch and dynamic size, using Garner's speeded discrimination paradigm. Experiment 1 examined the interaction of continuous rise/fall in pitch and increase/decrease in object size. Experiment 2 examined the interaction of static pitch and size (steady high/low pitches and large/small visual objects), using an identical procedure. Results indicate that static and dynamic auditory and visual stimuli interact in opposite ways. While for static stimuli (Experiment 2), higher pitch is congruent with smaller size (as suggested by earlier work), for dynamic stimuli (Experiment 1), ascending pitch is congruent with growing size, and descending pitch with shrinking size. In addition, while static stimuli (Experiment 2) exhibit both congruence and Garner effects, dynamic stimuli (Experiment 1) present congruence effects without Garner interference, a pattern that is not consistent with prevalent interpretations of Garner's paradigm. Our interpretation of these results focuses on effects of within-trial changes on processing in dynamic tasks and on the association of changes in apparent size with implied changes in distance. Results suggest that static and dynamic stimuli can differ substantially in their cross-modal mappings, and may rely on different processing mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-284
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014


  • Auditory pitch
  • Cross-modal correspondence
  • Speeded discrimination


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