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Our entire scientific knowledge of how hearing works derives from the stimuli used in auditory experiments. Hearing scientists have devoted much effort and insight into designing the sounds for their experiments so that each is just right for its purpose. This has become much easier in recent years, as the near-universal use of computers means that almost any stimulus that can be thought of can be used, provided only that a computer program can be written to make it. The result is a true revolution in experimental method: The days when specialized electrical hardware was needed for auditory experiments—and which only a few laboratories had—are long past.

The three classic stimuli of auditory science discussed in this entry are pure tones, noises, and clicks. Their ...

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