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Letters to Nature
Nature 251, 307 - 309 (27 September 1974); doi:10.1038/251307a0

An auditory illusion

DIANA DEUTSCH

Center for Human Information Processing, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92037

I HERE report a novel and striking auditory illusion, which provides a paradox for theories of pitch perception and auditory localisation1,2; and which varies in correlation with the handedness of the listener. The stimulus configuration which produced the illusion consisted of a sequence of tones, alternating in pitch between 400 Hz and 800 Hz (Fig. 1a). Each tone lasted 250 ms, with no gap between tones. The sequence was presented at equal amplitude to both ears simultaneously; however, when one ear received 400 Hz the other received 800 Hz, and vice versa. Thus the same two-tone combination was presented constantly, but the ear of input for each component switched every 250 ms.

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References

1. Plomp, R., and Smoorenberg, G. F., (ed.), Frequency analysis and periodicity detection in hearing (Sijthoff, Leiden, 1970).
2. Tobias, J. V. (ed.), Foundations of modern auditory theory, 1 and 2 (Academic Press, New York, 1970 and 1972).
3. Hecaen, H., and de Ajuriaguerra, J., Left-handedness (Grune and Stratten, New York and London, 1964).
4. Brain, R., Speech disorders, second ed. (Butterworths, London, 1965).
5. Tunturi, A. R., Am. J. Physiol., 147, 311–319 (1946).
6. Rosenzweig, M. R., Am. J. Physiol., 169, 147–158 (1951).
7. Bocca, E., Calearo, C., Cassinari, V., and Miglianacca, F., Acta Otolaryngol., 45, 289–304 (1955).
8. Attneave, F., Scient. Amer., 225, 62–71 (1971).



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