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Re: Rationale for Critical Bands
Dan, the situation is indeed complicated, but I don't think there's
much actual disagreement.
I don't think you'll find any serious scientists placing "the burdon
of explaining auditory perception almost entirely upon the cochlea"
even though it is as you say "the most-studied and well-understood
component of the auditory system." There's an awful lot about
hearing that can only be explained in terms of several subsequent
levels of processing, and much that can't yet really be explained at
For simple phenomena related to the critical band, however,
understanding the form of the cochlear filter seems to be enough, or
almost enough. The question of whether an auditory filter model can
fit both the psychophysical data as well as the
biomechanical/neurophysiological data has often been openly
discussed; it is not a totally settled question, nor an ignored
question. The result so far seems to be that a good fit in one
domain can be at least plausible in the other.
In my own recent work, I've been promoting a form of cochlear model
that seems to do well on both; that is, it gives excellent fits to
masking data, with few parameters (about like gammachirp or a little
better), and also has structural relations to the underlying
traveling-wave mechanics. Unfortunately, I don't have any journal
articles on it; but I can send you some stuff from a workshop talk
and recent conference talks if you're interested.
At 9:07 AM +0800 6/15/10, Daniel Bowling wrote:
Thanks to all who responded.
In addition to the public posts I have received several private ones
and I think it is safe to say that there is a good deal of
disagreement regrading this matter.
My concern is that research has placed the burdon of explaining
auditory perception almost entirely upon the cochlea, the
most-studied and well-understood component of the auditory system.
Whether the idea is 'critical bands' or 'auditory filters', the
bottom line seems to be the same: the results of the psychoacoustic
experiments are explained by the physical interaction of vibrations
of the BM. This is the claim I am wondering if there is direct
Although cochlear models are of great interest, it is not clear to
me how demonstrating that roex (or gammachirp) functions are capable
of approximating BM motion data explains the perceptual phenomena in
question. It is likely that I have failed to come to grips with the
implications of these models. However, if cochlear models do hold
the key to understanding why we hear what we do, I would greatly
appreciate a presentation of the basic argument in simple enough
terms to inspire a student to expend the considerable time and
energy required to master an understanding of them.