how audition beats vision (Robert Port )

Subject: how audition beats vision
From:    Robert Port  <port(at)CS.INDIANA.EDU>
Date:    Tue, 22 Jun 1993 21:18:53 -0500

One major difference between the auditory and visual channels is sensitivity to rapid events in time. Audition beats vision by a long shot -- a factor of 30-40 -- presumably because the chemical response to light takes much longer than the mechanical response to sound pressure. The auditory nerve apparently transmits a phase-locked representation of sound events all the way up to nearly 1000 Hz. (Of course the ear detects frequencies much higher than that, but I'm talking about time-synchronous response to individual events.) This means that individual periods are resolved almost down to a single msec. The visual system, on the other hand, fails to detect flicker in movie images that flash only 24-30 times a second. Now whether this can be exploited for the purpose of facilitating data interpretation, I don't know. It will take some imagination. Bob Port Linguistics/Comp Sci/Cog Sci Indiana University

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