Physical Nature of Certain of the Vibrating Elements of the Internal Ear


THE sensation resulting in the human subject from a change of phase of (180°) occurring in the course of a continuous musical tone has been the subject of a number of earlier publications1. Under certain conditions, the sensation has been found to resemble the beat produced by two pure tones slightly out of unison, and has been described as a ” phase-change beat”2. As stated by Hartridge1, it is demanded by the Helmholtz resonance theory that the physiological event which corresponds to such a phase-change beat must be a transient arrest of the resonant elements of the internal ear brought about by the opposition of the impressed forces following the change of phase to the after-swings enforced by resonance.

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  1. 1

    H. Hartridge, Brit. J. Psychol., 12, 142 (1921).

  2. 2

    C. S. Hallpike, H. Hartridge and A. F. Rawdon-Smith (in the press).

  3. 3

    C. S. Hallpike, H. Hartridge and A. F. Rawdon-Smith, Proc. Physiol. Soc., Feb. 15, 1936. J. Physiol., 86.

  4. 4

    C. S. Hallpike and A. F. Rawdon-Smith, J. Physiol., 86, 406 (1934).

  5. 5

    H. Davis, A. J. Derbyshire, M. H. Lurie and L. J. Saul, Amer. J. Physiol., 107, 311 (1934).

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HALLPIKE, C., HARTRIDGE, H. & RAWDON-SMITH, A. Physical Nature of Certain of the Vibrating Elements of the Internal Ear. Nature 138, 839–840 (1936).

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