A dual mechanism for sound pitch perception: new evidence from brain electrophysiology

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THE N1 component of the auditory brain evoked potential was used as a direct electrophysiological index, to study how the perception of pitch for complex periodic tones can be influenced by the phase of the harmonics that make up a sound, according to their ranks. Results showed that in the low pitch and/or high spectra region, N1 latency was modified by phase, whereas it was not in the high pitch and low spectra region. These data help bring evidence towards a dual mechanism for pitch perception, and demonstrate that these processes take place within 110 ms following stimulus onset. Results are compatible with a model based on the resolvability of components and on the bandwidth of auditory filters.

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