auditory beat

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The periodic waxing and waning of sound, produced when two tones with slightly different frequencies (1) are sounded simultaneously, caused by wave interference as the two tones alternately reinforce and cancel each other's amplitude, as when a tone of 256 hertz (Middle C) is sounded simultaneously with a tone of 260 hertz, generating a beat frequency of 4 hertz (cycles per second). Piano tuners work by counting beats. Beats occur even if the tones are presented separately to the two ears via headphones (see binaural beat).

Subjects: Psychology.

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