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ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec. 1993 May-Jun;55(3):159-63.

Central auditory system.

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Department of Psychology, R-54, Florida State University, Tallahassee 32306-1051.


A biological view of the central auditory system seems to be replacing the older Galilean or physics-based view as the guide for research in the late 20th century. This emerging view is primarily Darwinian in origin and recognizes that the entire auditory system is an adaptation for extracting information from natural sounds and their sources, usually for the guidance of immediate behavioral action. The fact that natural sounds themselves are almost always transients, too brief in duration to have tonal quality, suggests that the ear is far more of a Fast Fourier Transformer (and less of a Fourier analyzer) than is usually explicitly stated. Since the brief sounds constituting most of the acoustical environment contain critical information for guiding behavioral activity, several further hypotheses regarding the cell-level and tissue-level contributions of the central auditory system also follow. For example, the new view suggests that the central auditory system's role is likely to include the extraction of the behaviorally most important features, aspects, or dimensions of the sources of sounds in addition to, or possibly instead of, the physical dimensions of the sounds themselves. Because this new view has already enjoyed some measure of success and has also suggested a number of new and unusual directions for future research, it may become the dominant theory for research in the 21st century.

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