What we can hear depends first of all on what the ear hears. It also depends on what the brain does with what the ear hears. On the one hand, there has been considerable study of the mechanical-electrical operation of the ear. Generally speaking the ear acts as a complex time frequency analyzer. On the other hand, there are extensive investigations as to what one hears subjectively; that is, the psychological aspects of hearing. Psychoacoustics includes and attempts to relate these studies. Why high pitch sounds are more easily masked by low pitch sounds than vice versa and how we can pick out a sound in space are discussed in order to illustrate the psychoacoustical viewpoint.
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