Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412972000 | Print ISBN: 9781412940818 | Online ISBN: 9781412972000| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The sounds we perceive do not always correspond to those that are presented. When such a mismatch occurs, we are experiencing an auditory illusion . These illusions show that the auditory system does not faithfully transmit the sound information as it arrives at our ears, but alters and reorganizes this information in various ways, as described in this entry. Our hearing mechanism has evolved an ingenious mechanism for minimizing problems caused by echoes in the environment. Instead of correctly perceiving a set of overlapping sounds, each coming from a different location in space, we obtain the illusion of a single sound that appears to be coming from its original source. This phenomenon was first discovered by the 19th-century physicist Joseph Henry. To demonstrate this effect, the listener is seated in front of two loudspeakers, with one to his left and the other to his right. A single stream of speech ...