Thesis defence: Baptiste BOUVIER

Auditory salience: from psychoacoustic characterization to perception of the sound environment

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Baptiste Bouvier, a doctoral student at Sorbonne Université, carried out his research entitled "Saillance auditive: de la caractérisation psychoacoustique à la perception de l'environnement sonore" ("Auditory salience: from psychoacoustic characterization to perception of the sound environment") within the Perception et Design Sonores team of the STMS laboratory (Ircam - Sorbonne Université - CNRS - Ministère de la Culture), in conjunction with the Labortaoire LTDS (Univ Lyon, ENTPE, Ecole Centrale de Lyon, CNRS, LTDS, UMR5513). He has received funding from the French Ministry of Ecological Transition.

He defended his thesis in French at Ircam on January 31, 2024 at 2pm before a Jury composed of:

  • Nicolas Grimaut - Lyon Neuroscience Research Center - Rapporteur
  • Arnaud Can - Joint Research Unit in Environmental Acoustics (Nantes) - Rapporteur
  • Mounya Elhilali - Johns Hopkins University - Examiner
  • François Ollivier - Sorbonne University - Examiner
  • Sabine Meunier - Laboratoire de Mécanique et d'Acoustique (Marseille) - Examiner
  • Patrick Susini - Institut de recherche et coordination acoustique/musique - Supervisor
  • Catherine Marquis-Favre - Ecole nationale des travaux publics de l'Etat (Lyon) - Thesis co-director
  • Nicolas Misdariis - Institut de recherche et coordination acoustique/musique - Thesis director

If you wish to listen to him (again):


At the heart of the cognitive mechanisms involved in perceiving our environment, salience reflects the ability of certain information to capture our attention independently of our will. If auditory salience seems to shape our perception of the sound environment, its study raises a variety of issues: noise pollution in the urban environment, and the design of audible sources for the transmission of useful information are all mirrored around this notion.

In this work, we are asking how the properties of sound sources are likely to modulate their salience, and how their salience is likely to affect our perception of the sound scene as a whole. Among other things, we want to observe how it affects our perception of pleasantness in a soundscape.

First, we reveal the stimulus-driven component of attention, more precisely the modulation of an attentional capture phenomenon by timbre attributes in controlled sound sequences. We then show how the presence of salient sounds affects the perception of more complex sound sequences, revealing the effect of salience at a local level on the primacy of holistic processing usually observed. Finally, we investigate the link between salience and sound pleasantness in a variety of environmental scenes, establishing salience as an essential indicator of the perception and appreciation of the sound environment.

In the light of the results obtained, it appears that our sound environment can impose itself on us, through the salient elements that emerge and shape our perception and appreciation of it.

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