An observation about the ear

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

I started reading Brian Moore, "An Introduction to the Psychology of
Hearing." Let me make one observation related to reductionism.

We could model the ear/brain combination as a cascade of systems in
which signals propagate one direction. That would simplify things
enormously-- if one stage cannot detect a difference in signals (change
is below the noise) then no signal of the difference could be
propagated to higher stages.

But according to what I've read so far, signals travel both directions.
The books says that the outer hair cells have a motor function which
is "partly under control of higher centers of the auditory system."

In other words, if we investigate the behavior of the cochlea, we can't
isolate it from the behavior of the higher centers.

I'm not making any specific claims here about how this affects the
audibility of cables, but can we agree that it would be reductionist to
model the ear as a unidirectional cascade of stages? Why or why not?

-Mike
8 answers Last reply
More about observation
  1. Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

    On 5 Apr 2005 00:47:42 GMT, "Michael Mossey" <michaelmossey@yahoo.com>
    wrote:

    >I started reading Brian Moore, "An Introduction to the Psychology of
    >Hearing." Let me make one observation related to reductionism.
    >
    >We could model the ear/brain combination as a cascade of systems in
    >which signals propagate one direction. That would simplify things
    >enormously-- if one stage cannot detect a difference in signals (change
    >is below the noise) then no signal of the difference could be
    >propagated to higher stages.
    >
    >But according to what I've read so far, signals travel both directions.
    > The books says that the outer hair cells have a motor function which
    >is "partly under control of higher centers of the auditory system."
    >
    >In other words, if we investigate the behavior of the cochlea, we can't
    >isolate it from the behavior of the higher centers.
    >
    >I'm not making any specific claims here about how this affects the
    >audibility of cables, but can we agree that it would be reductionist to
    >model the ear as a unidirectional cascade of stages? Why or why not?

    It would not be reductionist, because if the auditory nerve does not
    fire, then no audible stimulation is received by the higher brain
    centres. BTW, reductionism isn't a crime, it can be a very useful
    analytical tool.

    Besides, all this is so much flummery. If you can not provide
    *evidence* that there is a problem with quick-switched DBTs, i.e. if
    you can't find *any* audible stimulus which is concealed by such a
    test but is revealed by some other test, then you are simply spreading
    baseless assertions.
    --

    Stewart Pinkerton | Music is Art - Audio is Engineering
  2. Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

    Michael Mossey wrote:
    > I started reading Brian Moore, "An Introduction to the Psychology of
    > Hearing." Let me make one observation related to reductionism.
    >
    > We could model the ear/brain combination as a cascade of systems in
    > which signals propagate one direction. That would simplify things
    > enormously-- if one stage cannot detect a difference in signals
    > (change is below the noise) then no signal of the difference could be
    > propagated to higher stages.
    >
    > But according to what I've read so far, signals travel both
    > directions. The books says that the outer hair cells have a motor
    > function which is "partly under control of higher centers of the
    > auditory system."
    >
    > In other words, if we investigate the behavior of the cochlea, we
    > can't isolate it from the behavior of the higher centers.
    >
    > I'm not making any specific claims here about how this affects the
    > audibility of cables, but can we agree that it would be reductionist
    > to model the ear as a unidirectional cascade of stages? Why or why
    > not?
    >
    > -Mike

    Hey, a book like this is not read or rather understood in a few days.
    Apparently you think just reading a few books and then formulating another
    hypothesis is bringing you to the edge of an unexplored subject.
    You are missing the fundamental scientific education, which is rather
    learned in university in a lengthy process, so you better go there and
    graduate and learn from an experienced scientist how to tackle problems like
    this in the right way.
    It is not of use to mock like this:
    >I'm not making any specific claims here about how this affects the
    > audibility of cables
    It rather discredits what you write here.

    --
    ciao Ban
    Bordighera, Italy
  3. Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

    Michael Mossey wrote:
    <snip>
    >
    > In other words, if we investigate the behavior of the cochlea, we can't
    > isolate it from the behavior of the higher centers.
    >
    > I'm not making any specific claims here about how this affects the
    > audibility of cables, but can we agree that it would be reductionist to
    > model the ear as a unidirectional cascade of stages? Why or why not?
    >
    > -Mike


    It is fairly clear that the process of hearing & perception is complex
    and is poorly understood, as is the function and nature of the brain
    itself. Anyone pretending otherwise is blowing just so much smoke.

    Some factors are apparently being discovered and understood, thus the
    utilitarian application to various "compression" techniques (like Mp3
    etc...) that bring us pretty good sound in ever smaller packages.

    IF "JJ" was still around, he could regale us with extensive datum on
    hearing and perception... and btw, it is possible to detect signals that
    are technically below the noise floor under the right circumstances!

    In my opinion, well based in sound science and technology as it is,
    efforts at testing these things or creating "theories" of function or
    operation are extremely useful but fraught with pitfalls and other
    issues. Given the propensity of some in this forum to have the
    never-ending debate that insists that since test type "X" has never
    detected a difference of type "K" that "it" doesn't exist, I find it
    rather pointless to even attempt to engage in the suggestion or
    discussion of the possibility that "everything" is not already known,
    and/or that the possibility of there being "differences" or "measurable
    quantities that can be correlated to perception" that are still out
    there to be simply a gross waste of time and energy with this group
    which holds such strong views held so closely... ymmv.


    _-_-bear
  4. Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

    "Given the propensity of some in this forum to have the never-ending
    debate that insists that since test type "X" has never detected a
    difference of type "K" that "it" doesn't exist,"

    The better expression of the above is that many differences can be
    measured electrically which fail to rise above the threshold of audibility
    and are thus irrelevant as design goals and can be ignored as though they
    didn't exist.

    The flip side is the failure of some to demonstrate in hearing testing
    that claimed differences exist outside the perception process of the brain
    alone and have no basis at all in the electrical properties of the wire.
  5. Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

    BEAR <bearlabs@netzero.net> wrote:
    > Michael Mossey wrote:
    > <snip>
    > >
    > > In other words, if we investigate the behavior of the cochlea, we can't
    > > isolate it from the behavior of the higher centers.
    > >
    > > I'm not making any specific claims here about how this affects the
    > > audibility of cables, but can we agree that it would be reductionist to
    > > model the ear as a unidirectional cascade of stages? Why or why not?
    > >
    > > -Mike


    > It is fairly clear that the process of hearing & perception is complex
    > and is poorly understood, as is the function and nature of the brain
    > itself. Anyone pretending otherwise is blowing just so much smoke.

    > Some factors are apparently being discovered and understood, thus the
    > utilitarian application to various "compression" techniques (like Mp3
    > etc...) that bring us pretty good sound in ever smaller packages.

    > IF "JJ" was still around, he could regale us with extensive datum on
    > hearing and perception... and btw, it is possible to detect signals that
    > are technically below the noise floor under the right circumstances!


    JJ, was also a stone objectivist -- and a tireless champion
    of bias-controlled listening tests. I kind of doubt you'd have found
    him supporting your side in most of the threads you've participated in
    on RAHE.

    > In my opinion, well based in sound science and technology as it is,
    > efforts at testing these things or creating "theories" of function or
    > operation are extremely useful but fraught with pitfalls and other
    > issues. Given the propensity of some in this forum to have the
    > never-ending debate that insists that since test type "X" has never
    > detected a difference of type "K" that "it" doesn't exist, I find it
    > rather pointless to even attempt to engage in the suggestion or
    > discussion of the possibility that "everything" is not already known,
    > and/or that the possibility of there being "differences" or "measurable
    > quantities that can be correlated to perception" that are still out
    > there to be simply a gross waste of time and energy with this group
    > which holds such strong views held so closely... ymmv.


    Well, that's one of the larger straw men I've seen put here lately.
    Congratulations.

    All the 'objectivists' I've seen accept the possibility of audible
    difference in any comparison; they merely ask that a *conclusion* of
    audible difference be properly supported -- a requirement deriving from
    the bog-standard,utterly uncontroversial existence of perceptual bias.

    None of them say 'all X sound the same' without some important , and
    well-supported, qualifications.

    Now, when the audiophile community starts *properly verifying* its claims
    of difference -- which are rarely qualified in any way. but merely taken
    as *given* -- then maybe there will be a *point* to taking it
    seriously.

    It's funny that in every other field of discovery, the fact that not
    everything is known doesn't invalidate what *is* known. That requires
    actual *good data* which contradicts the current models. The audiophuile
    community hasn't offered up much of *that* , either.


    ___

    -S
    It's not my business to do intelligent work. -- D. Rumsfeld, testifying
    before the House Armed Services Committee
  6. Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

    Steven Sullivan wrote:
    > BEAR <bearlabs@netzero.net> wrote:
    >
    >>Michael Mossey wrote:
    >><snip>
    >>

    >
    > JJ, was also a stone objectivist -- and a tireless champion
    > of bias-controlled listening tests. I kind of doubt you'd have found
    > him supporting your side in most of the threads you've participated in
    > on RAHE.
    >


    Thank you for that input, Steven.

    My side?

    I do not take sides, nor have a side, but if it is easier from your
    perspective to handle, it is sufficient to say that I appreciate
    scientific testing fully - I do not think it has yet has correlated what
    is measurable to what is percieved. Thus, the door is open, not closed.

    >
    <snip>
    >
    >
    >
    > Well, that's one of the larger straw men I've seen put here lately.
    > Congratulations.
    >
    > All the 'objectivists' I've seen accept the possibility of audible
    > difference in any comparison; they merely ask that a *conclusion* of
    > audible difference be properly supported -- a requirement deriving from
    > the bog-standard,utterly uncontroversial existence of perceptual bias.

    On the contrary, the so-called objectivists that I have read on this
    particular forum appear to take a slightly different position - that is
    that they *conclude* that audible differences usually can not be found
    unless they are gross differences, therefore everyone who thinks they
    hear *something* are probably delusional or fooling themselves at best??

    Have you heard of or can you cite any "blind" tests that have produced
    any statistically valid "differences"?? Curious about that too... btw.

    >
    > None of them say 'all X sound the same' without some important , and
    > well-supported, qualifications.

    Yeah, ok. Well, Dear Steven, after a year or so away from rahe the song
    remains the same? To take the "devils advocate" position, the so-called
    subjectivists position is that "all X may sound different" with some
    important and well-supported qualification??

    What does all that mean? Nothing.

    >
    > Now, when the audiophile community starts *properly verifying* its claims
    > of difference -- which are rarely qualified in any way. but merely taken
    > as *given* -- then maybe there will be a *point* to taking it
    > seriously.

    Well, are you the final arbiter of that issue then?

    And, why do you assign ME to have to carry the "cross" of the
    "audiophile community" in the first place??

    "...it ain't me babe, it ain't me you're lookin for babe..." - B. Dylan

    >
    > It's funny that in every other field of discovery, the fact that not
    > everything is known doesn't invalidate what *is* known. That requires
    > actual *good data* which contradicts the current models. The audiophuile
    > community hasn't offered up much of *that* , either.

    Ummm, and neither has the "objectivist" community? Who apparently you
    believe that you are not and the other "objectivists" do not count
    themselves as *part* of the audiophile community??

    Btw, did I read that you just went to your *first* "hi-fi" show ever,
    Steven?? Congrats if you did. :- )

    Outsor, who said anything about "wires"?? Why mention wires? What was
    the reason?

    To me (to use a metaphor) this is akin to those who are off to one side
    of the political spectrum calling centrists "lefties"... absurd there,
    and here, imho.


    _-_-bear


    --
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    Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
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  7. Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

    BEAR wrote:
    > Steven Sullivan wrote:

    > > All the 'objectivists' I've seen accept the possibility of audible
    > > difference in any comparison; they merely ask that a *conclusion*
    of
    > > audible difference be properly supported -- a requirement deriving
    from
    > > the bog-standard,utterly uncontroversial existence of perceptual
    bias.
    >
    > On the contrary, the so-called objectivists that I have read on this
    > particular forum appear to take a slightly different position - that
    is
    > that they *conclude* that audible differences usually can not be
    found
    > unless they are gross differences,

    To this point, I wouldn't argue with you, although that conclusion is
    provisional--we're always interested in new evidence that stands up to
    scientific scrutiny.

    > therefore everyone who thinks they
    > hear *something* are probably delusional or fooling themselves at
    best??

    Come now, Randy. I know you understand the difference between DE-lusion
    and IL-lusion.
    >
    > Have you heard of or can you cite any "blind" tests that have
    produced
    > any statistically valid "differences"?? Curious about that too...
    btw.

    Numerous tests of codecs, of course. And 5 of the 6 tests in the
    Greenhill Stereo Review cable challenge. And, oh yes, virtually all the
    research into human hearing thresholds. We wouldn't know that humans
    can hear up to 20kHz, or the extent of masking, without positive DBTs.

    bob
  8. Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

    BEAR <bearlabs@netzero.net> wrote:
    > Steven Sullivan wrote:
    > > BEAR <bearlabs@netzero.net> wrote:
    > >
    > >>Michael Mossey wrote:
    > >><snip>
    > >>

    > >
    > > JJ, was also a stone objectivist -- and a tireless champion
    > > of bias-controlled listening tests. I kind of doubt you'd have found
    > > him supporting your side in most of the threads you've participated in
    > > on RAHE.
    > >


    > Thank you for that input, Steven.

    > My side?

    > I do not take sides, nor have a side, but if it is easier from your
    > perspective to handle, it is sufficient to say that I appreciate
    > scientific testing fully - I do not think it has yet has correlated what
    > is measurable to what is percieved. Thus, the door is open, not closed.

    'What is perceived' is already *known* to run a real risk of being
    completely imaginary. So why take it as the reference point?


    > > Well, that's one of the larger straw men I've seen put here lately.
    > > Congratulations.
    > >
    > > All the 'objectivists' I've seen accept the possibility of audible
    > > difference in any comparison; they merely ask that a *conclusion* of
    > > audible difference be properly supported -- a requirement deriving from
    > > the bog-standard,utterly uncontroversial existence of perceptual bias.

    > On the contrary, the so-called objectivists that I have read on this
    > particular forum appear to take a slightly different position - that is
    > that they *conclude* that audible differences usually can not be found
    > unless they are gross differences, therefore everyone who thinks they
    > hear *something* are probably delusional or fooling themselves at best??

    Key word is *probably* -- which, as I said, allows for possibility of
    audible difference.

    > Have you heard of or can you cite any "blind" tests that have produced
    > any statistically valid "differences"?? Curious about that too... btw.

    Yes, Sean Olive and Floyd Toole perform them routinely on speakers
    and listeners at Harman, and have published same. Carlstrom/Kruger's
    websotie also lists some positive ABX results, including for amps.
    MP3 development is also replete with them.

    If you're asking 'where are the positive results for CD transports, cables,
    DACs' -- well, that's a good question....where *are* they?

    If you're trying to suggest that blind tests always produce null results,
    that's simply wrong. If you think about it, they wouldn't be considered
    useful at all in perceptual science if they did that.


    > > None of them say 'all X sound the same' without some important , and
    > > well-supported, qualifications.

    > Yeah, ok. Well, Dear Steven, after a year or so away from rahe the song
    > remains the same? To take the "devils advocate" position, the so-called
    > subjectivists position is that "all X may sound different" with some
    > important and well-supported qualification??

    Why* would* the 'song' change? The qualifications for 'all X sound the same'
    shouldn't change unless new data has come in. It hasn't.

    What are the important and well supported qualification for 'all X may sound
    different'? Indulge me, please, becayse I've never seen subjectivists qualify
    their claims of difference.

    > What does all that mean? Nothing.

    Actually, the details are crucial.

    > > Now, when the audiophile community starts *properly verifying* its claims
    > > of difference -- which are rarely qualified in any way. but merely taken
    > > as *given* -- then maybe there will be a *point* to taking it
    > > seriously.

    > Well, are you the final arbiter of that issue then?

    Please read the posts in context.

    > And, why do you assign ME to have to carry the "cross" of the
    > "audiophile community" in the first place??

    > "...it ain't me babe, it ain't me you're lookin for babe..." - B. Dylan

    Because you apparently choose to carry it, in this particular thread.

    > > It's funny that in every other field of discovery, the fact that not
    > > everything is known doesn't invalidate what *is* known. That requires
    > > actual *good data* which contradicts the current models. The audiophuile
    > > community hasn't offered up much of *that* , either.

    > Ummm, and neither has the "objectivist" community? Who apparently you
    > believe that you are not and the other "objectivists" do not count
    > themselves as *part* of the audiophile community??

    Well, I agree, objectivists *haven't* offered up data that invalidates current
    models of sighted listening as being a terrible way
    to ascertain the existence real, yet subtle, audible difference.

    Objectivists, in fact, accept that model because of the good data supporting
    it.

    Subjectivists, on the other hand, haven't offered any good data to
    invalidate the model, een though their assumption that sighted
    llistening is a valid reference point, *depends* on that model being
    invalid.

    You're right, I shouldn't have written 'audiophile community'. I usually
    stick to 'audiophile culture', which has a different connotation.

    > Btw, did I read that you just went to your *first* "hi-fi" show ever,
    > Steven?? Congrats if you did. :- )

    You did. Thanks. It'll very likely also be my last, unless I go to
    CES.

    > Outsor, who said anything about "wires"?? Why mention wires? What was
    > the reason?

    IIRC, you sell audiophile 'wires', do you not? Have you ever
    tested them in a scientific way?

    > To me (to use a metaphor) this is akin to those who are off to one side
    > of the political spectrum calling centrists "lefties"... absurd there,
    > and here, imho.

    Remember what I said about perception being unreliable?


    --

    -S
    It's not my business to do intelligent work. -- D. Rumsfeld, testifying
    before the House Armed Services Committee
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