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Re: pitch shift with age

Pierre Divenyi wrote:
> The fact that pitch shift occurs also for virtual pitch/missing
> fundamental makes the cochlear explanation essentially useless or, at
> the least, severely incomplete. An alternative explanation proposed
> (sorry, I don't have the reference at this moment -- maybe someone
> does?) tied the phenomenon to the well-documented general "slowing
> down" of nerve activity with age (Birren, J. E. & Fisher, L. M.,
> Annual Review Psychology 46 [1995]).
> My own experience with this phenomenon has been pretty dramatic: I
> once had AP (less than 1% error) and currently misjudge a pitch by as
> much as a whole tone.
> Pierre Divenyi

My sense is that relative pitch matches
(e.g. of pure tone pitches with those
produced by click trains or other complex stimuli such
as with missing fundamentals) do not systematically
change with age (is this correct?).

Absolute pitch on the other hand involves some kind of
stored template or representation that must be "read out"
to be compared with an incoming stimulus.

One possibility would be that internal templates for absolute time
duration and absolute pitch are temporal in nature, but in later
life are "read out" at a slightly slower rate, so that events
appear to occur slightly faster (relative to the
internal templates) than they formerly did.

Absolute pitch judgements would then shift upward. (Is it
always an upward shift of pitch that is associated with
age? Never downward? Is there such a thing as absolute
rhythm, and is there also an age effect there?)

Any temporal storage mechanism that depended on cellular
clocks or conduction times would be subject to
systematic changes in these cellular processes
that could occur with age. Some of these putative
mechanisms might be probed by looking at absolute
pitch judgements made at different body temperatures,
e.g. when someone has a fever.

There are many parallels between rhythm and pitch perception,
so one wonders whether the same general kinds of mechanisms
could be involved, albeit operating over different time

Pierre, it would be most interesting if you or someone else
could dredge up that reference.

Peter Cariani

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