Auditory Frequency Selectivity

Our world is filled with acoustic energy. Sound waves radiate from different sources, bouncing off walls, floors, and other objects, and intermingling before finally reaching our ears. What the ear receives is a complex mixture of sources and reflections, all combining to form a single pressure wave that causes the eardrum to vibrate. How do we segregate such a mixture, and how do we identify and recognize the sources? This question, which forms part of the well-known cocktail party problem, is still not completely solved. However, one contributing factor is our ability to hear and segregate different frequencies within the sound mixture. This frequency selectivity, described in this entry, is established at an early stage of auditory processing and is maintained throughout the auditory ...

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