volley theory

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A refinement of the frequency theory of pitch perception, first proposed in 1939 by the US psychologist Ernest Glen Wever (1902–91), according to which the ear converts acoustic vibrations into nerve impulses for frequencies between about 500 hertz (the maximum firing rate of individual auditory neurons) and 5,000 hertz (above which the place theory provides an adequate explanation) by causing groups of neurons to fire repeatedly and slightly out of phase with one another, producing a stream of nerve impulses more rapid than the firing rate of any individual neuron, analogously to volleys of arrows from a group of asynchronous archers arriving at their target more frequently than the maximum firing rate of any individual archer. Also called the platoon-volley theory. Compare frequency theory, place theory.

Subjects: Psychology.

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