audiogyral illusion

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An error in sound localization that occurs when a sound source on the end of a boom attached rigidly to a listener's head is thus kept at a fixed point relative to the head, usually a few feet in front of the nose, even when the head is turned from side to side, the invariable consequence being that the sound is heard as coming from a point directly overhead. A second version of the same illusion occurs when a person is seated on a slowly rotating platform and a sound source some distance in front rotates with the person's body, again creating the illusion that the sound source is directly overhead. A closely related version occurs when a person sits motionless inside a slowly rotating striped drum that induces vection, a sensation that the body is rotating in the opposite direction, and a sound source is located at a fixed point outside the drum, creating the illusion once again that the sound source is directly overhead. The illusion in its various forms was discovered by the German-born US psychologist Hans Wallach (1904–98) and published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology in 1940. It is explained by the fact that in ordinary circumstances rotation of the body or head produces changes in transient disparities, phase delays, and sonic shadows, except when the sound originates from directly above or below, and experience teaches us that in such circumstances, because we are terrestrial creatures, it almost invariably originates from above. See also sound localization. Compare audiogravic illusion. [From Latin audio I hear, from audire to hear + gyrus a circle + -alis of or relating to]

Subjects: Psychology.

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