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It really depends on what you mean by difference in pitch. Subjects can discriminate differences in frequency for very short tones, but it does not mean they are being perceived as pitch differences. The classic paper in this area is Moore (1973): As the duration is reduced from 200 ms to 6.25 ms, performance falls off, especially for low frequency tones. ...


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I used 5 ms long tone bursts in an experiment where people had to discriminate between a 1000 Hz and a 1200 Hz pure tone (or rather, click). They could generally do this very well, if I remember correctly accuracy was above 90%. I then had a different paradigm which was a bit more difficult in terms of the task, and I had to increase the tones to 20 ms ...



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