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Binaural pitch difference query

Susan Moore smoore at otolaryngology-po.oto.uiowa.edu
Mon Apr 7 09:34:08 EST 1997

Not being up and up on what I am about to post, may I qualify my statements
by saying I could be completely wrong about this but....

a poster wrote:
"I currently have a slight cold, and that wonderful 'blocked ears'
feeling that goes with it. I now notice that my pitch perception is awry
- listening to a telephone facility tone with my left ear gives a
subjective tone 3 semitones lower than the right. Listening to high
pitched voices results in in a 'pitch shifted' effect in the left ear,
with what appears to be a slight time delay as well."

*if* this cold has affected your middle ear (which I suspect it has since you 
report that "plugged up" feeling), and has affected you more so in one ear vs. 
the other ear, you will experience a change in how your middle ear transmits 
sound to your inner ear.  The middle ear acts as a special sort of filter, in 
a way, to pass sounds on to the inner ear in a specific way that determines a 
"normal" sensation of loudness for various frequencies and intensities of sound.  
Loudness of sound is subjective, as is pitch.  If the normal relationship 
between frequency and intensity of sound as transmitted by a normal middle ear 
is altered, this will in turn alter the relationships of pitch in the affected 

Don't panic, it probably is not a permanent condition, but you might consider a
trip to the local doctor or ENT specialist just in case.  

I am quite positive there are more informed individuals out there who can be much
more scientific and precise about this, and explain what I am trying to say much
more eloquently, but I hope I have helped some....

Susan Moore
smoore at otolaryngology-po.oto.uiowa.edu

Opinions expressed should in no way be taken as representing those of my employer.

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