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Nonlinear effects on pitch perception uncovered by the Hopf-cochlea!

Despite efforts by some of the most famous names in physics such as Ohm and von Helmholtz, human perception of acoustic pitch has remained an unsolved puzzle. The problem is especially complex because a well-characterizable physical stimulus (sound) is detected by a heretofore poorly understood psychophysiological signal receiver (the ear). In an electronic realization of a biophysically detailed model of the cochlea (the so-called Hopf-cochlea), local cochlear correlates of the perceived pitch have been measured for the first time. In a recent publication by the Stoop Group, it is shown that from the correlates, all essential pitch-shifting phenomena can be explained from physical grounds. This result suggests, that the pitch-shifting phenomena emerge as the result of local nonlinearities in the cochlea itself, rather than by effects of higher-level neural processing in the brain. 

The article has been highlighted in Physics.

The original article in Physical Review Letters can be found here.