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The Perception of Sound


As I had the privilege of being consulted by Sir Thomas Wrightson during the later years of his. “Inquiry into the Analytical Mechanism of the Internal Ear,” and advising him as regards the physical nature of the cochlea and the arrangement of its parts, I may be allowed to try to clear up the various objections formulated by Prof. Bayliss (NATURE, October 17, p. 124), as they chiefly concern matters relating to anatomy or physiology. When Prof. Bayliss looks again at the title of Sir Thomas Wrightson's work, which I have quoted above, he will see that he is in error in supposing that the Wrightson theory deprives the cochlea of the analytical function postulated by Helmholtz. Helmholtz's theory presupposes that the cochlea contains an extensive series of resonators for resolving a sound complex into its component waves; Sir Thomas Wrightson's theory presupposes that the cochlea is a machine designed for the purpose of analysing sound complexes and of registering its component waves as nerve impulses. I fear it is a loose statement of mine on p. 159 of the Appendix to Sir Thomas Wrightson's book that has misled Prof. Bayliss; there I have written that “the final analysis must be done in the cortex of the brain even if Helmholtz's theory is true.” That I still believe to be the case.

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KEITH, A. The Perception of Sound. Nature 102, 164–165 (1918).

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