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Re: Height and pitch

        The Roffler and Butler study built on the much earlier findings of Pratt who showed as early as 1930 that there appeared to be an orderly dependence of source elevation on pure tone frequency.  Given what we now know about the role of the pinna in elevation perception, it is most likely the case that the spectral content of the stimuli (i.e. frequency) is the more germane variable in those reports rather than the subjective variable 'pitch'.  But as far as I know, no one has done an experiment like those of Pratt or Roffler and Butler using stimuli of the same 'pitch' but different spectral content (i.e. missing fundamental sounds).  Needless to say, it would be much more difficult to account for sound localization in elevation if 'pitch' were the cue.

But it still remains an interesting finding that, although this 'pitch' elevation phenomenon can be accounted for by various sound localization models (models by Butler, Blauert, and Middlebrooks), the subjective attribute of pitch is mapped in spatial coordinates.

On a lighter note...Given these findings, when Bekesy (1960) stated that "Theories of hearing are little more than theories of pitch," he may just as well have said that theories of hearing are little more than theories of sound localization.

Pratt, C. C. (1930)The spatial character of high and low tones. J. Exptl. Psychol. 13:278285.

At 08:53 AM 2/18/2003 +0100, pq wrote:
Roffler and Butler 1968 JASA 43(6): 1260-1266.

This paper shows that association of pitch and elevation is quite robust.  More importantly, 4 and 5 yr. old children showed similar effect.  The authors claim that the children "showed no acquitance with the words high and low as associated with the frequency of the tonal stimuli".



Pawel Kusmierek
Department of Neurophysiology
Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology
3, Pasteur St., 02-093 Warsaw, Poland

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E-mail: pq@nencki.gov.pl
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Daniel J. Tollin, Ph.D.
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