Improving accuracy in detecting acoustic onsets

Wouter Duyck, Frederik Anseel, Arnaud Szmalec, Pascal Mestdagh, Antoine Tavernier, Robert Hartsuiker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


In current cognitive psychology, naming latencies are commonly measured by electronic voice keys that detect when sound exceeds a certain amplitude threshold. However, recent research (e.g., K. Rastle & M. H. Davis, 2002) has shown that these devices are particularly inaccurate in precisely detecting acoustic onsets. In this article, the authors discuss the various problems and solutions that have been put forward with respect to this issue and show that classical voice keys may trigger several tens of milliseconds later than acoustic onset. The authors argue that a solution to this problem may come from voice keys that use a combination of analogue and digital noise (nonspeech sound) detection. It is shown that the acoustic onsets detected by such a device are only a few milliseconds delayed and correlate highly (up to .99) with reaction time values obtained by visual waveform inspection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1317-1326
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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