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Open Access item Pitch perception: A dynamical-systems perspective

Authors:Cartwright, Julyan H. E.
González, Diego L.
Piro, Oreste
Keywords:Chaotic Dynamics
Issue Date:24-Apr-2001
Publisher:National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)
Citation:Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA (PNAS) 98(9): 4855-4859 (2001)
Abstract:Two and a half millennia ago Pythagoras initiated the scientific study of the pitch of sounds; yet our understanding of the mechanisms of pitch perception remains incomplete. Physical models of pitch perception try to explain from elementary principles why certain physical characteristics of the stimulus lead to particular pitch sensations. There are two broad categories of pitch-perception models: place or spectral models consider that pitch is mainly related to the Fourier spectrum of the stimulus, whereas for periodicity or temporal models its characteristics in the time domain are more important. Current models from either class are usually computationally intensive, implementing a series of steps more or less supported by auditory physiology. However, the brain has to analyze and react in real time to an enormous amount of information from the ear and other senses. How is all this information efficiently represented and processed in the nervous system? A proposal of nonlinear and complex systems research is that dynamical attractors may form the basis of neural information processing. Because the auditory system is a complex and highly nonlinear dynamical system, it is natural to suppose that dynamical attractors may carry perceptual and functional meaning. Here we show that this idea, scarcely developed in current pitch models, can be successfully applied to pitch perception.
Description:5 pages, 4 figures.-- PMID: 11320234 [PubMed].-- PMCID: PMC33127.-- ArXiv pre-print available at: http://arxiv.org/abs/nlin/0210065
Full-text version available Open Access at the journal site and at PubMed Central.
Publisher version (URL):http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.081070998
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