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The study of the relationship between physical SOUNDs and the brain's interpretation of them. Until recently, psychoacoustics has devoted more attention to the behaviour of the peripheral auditory system than to the details of cognitive processing.
Timbre or tone QUALITY is determined by the behaviour in time of the FREQUENCY content or SPECTRUM of a sound, including its TRANSIENTs which are extremely important for the identification of timbre.
The use of reflected SOUND WAVEs for obtaining environmental information. Certain animals, such as the bat and the porpoise, emit pulses of extremely high frequency sound (up to 50 kHz for bats, and up to 170 kHz for porpoises and whales) in narrow, intense streams. The REFLECTION, or ECHO, of these sounds supplies information regarding the nature and location of objects in the environment. When an emission of varying frequency is used, such as with bats, the echoes, travelling varying distances to the ear, are heard as different frequencies in each ear, thus supplying directional information.
The subjective impression of FREQUENCY, in the same sense that LOUDNESS is the subjective sense of the INTENSITY or AMPLITUDE of a sound. As such, pitch is a psychoacoustic variable, and the degree of sensitivity shown to it varies widely with people. Some individuals have a sense of remembered pitch, that is, a pitch once heard can be remembered and compared to others for some length of time; others have a sense of absolute pitch called PERFECT PITCH.