Re: New Scientist Question ("Beerends, J.G." )

Subject: Re: New Scientist Question
From:    "Beerends, J.G."  <J.G.Beerends(at)KPN.COM>
Date:    Wed, 21 Nov 2001 09:06:16 +0100

Can a simple explanation be that if I yawn the loudness goes down and because loudness and pitch are coupled the pitch will change. John Beerends -----Original Message----- From: Greg O'Beirne [mailto:gobeirne(at)] Sent: woensdag 21 november 2001 7:13 To: AUDITORY(at)LISTS.MCGILL.CA Subject: New Scientist Question Dear list, New Scientist Magazine has a regular column called "The Last Word", where knowledgable folk send in answers to questions posed by members of the public. These questions are often answered quite quickly, but there is currently an unanswered question that has sat there since it was submitted in November 1998. Does anyone here have an answer? Here's the question: ---------- If I yawn while listening to music on my headphones, the perceived pitch falls by about half a semitone. The pitch can't really be going down because it's determined by the CD and player to which the headphones are attached. So does time slow as I yawn or is there another explanation? ---------- Feel free to discuss the possibilities on this list, and also to submit your answer to: My initial thoughts were that it was most likely to be: i) a change in the filtering of the music by the ear canal, rather than an actual change in pitch, caused by an increase in ear canal volume and corresponding decrease in resonant frequency during yawning, and ii) the low-pitched rumble from the fluttering contraction of the middle-ear muscles that often occurs with yawning confusing the subject's perception of the pitch, ...but now I'm not so sure. I certainly don't notice a pitch change with yawning. Anyone else have any suggestions? Many thanks, -- Greg O'Beirne <gobeirne(at)> The Auditory Laboratory Physiology Department University of Western Australia Visit our website:

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