Sonification Design for Complex Work Domains: Dimensions and Distractors

Janet E. Anderson, Penelope Sanderson

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Sonification-representing data in sound-is a potential method for supporting human operators who have to monitor dynamic processes. Previous research has investigated a limited number of sound dimensions and has not systematically investigated the impact of dimensional interactions on sonification effectiveness. In three experiments the authors investigated accuracy for identifying changes in six target auditory dimensions of a continuous pulse stream under three conditions: no distractor, one distractor, and five distractors. In Experiment 1 amplitude, frequency, harmonics, speed, tremolo (cycles per pulse), and width were tested. Accuracy and patterns of interaction between the dimensions were mapped. In Experiment 2 the same dimensions were tested but tremolo was operationalized as cycles per second (Hz). The patterns of interaction between the temporal dimensions differed from Experiment 1. In Experiment 3 the amplitude contour of the pulse stream was changed. The dimensions tested were amplitude, frequency, formants, speed, tremolo (cycles per period), and width. Results showed low accuracy for formants and many interactions, both positive and negative between the dimensions. The authors interpret the results in terms of theories of perceptual interference in auditory dimensions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-198
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • auditory attention
  • auditory display
  • auditory perception
  • perceptual interaction
  • sonification

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