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Chapter 11.3

PSYCH 1XX3 Chapter 11.3: PSYCH 1XX3 - Module 11.3 Notes (The Stimulus - Sound Waves)

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McMaster University
Joe Kim

PSYCH 1XX3 Dr. Kim & Dr. Cadieux Module 11.3 – Audition (The Stimulus – Sound Waves) Sound Waves  Sound waves are vibrations in air particles. o Like light, sound travels in waves o Unlike light, sound waves travel much slower and require some medium to travel through  Sound waves are initiated by either a vibrating object (vocal cords or a guitar string), a sudden burst of air (clapping), or by forcing air past a small cavity (pipe organ) o This causes the air molecules surrounding the source of the sound to move, causing a chain reaction of moving air particles. Responding to Changes in Air Pressure  Condensed bands of air particles ripple away from the sound source.  The eardrum responds to air pressure changes -- bands of air molecules push the eardrum inwards and outwards. o Compressed air particles push it inwards o Less dense air particles move it outwards Sine Waves  Pressure changes in sound waves can be graphed as a sine wave. 1. 2. o In audition, the three physical characteristics of a wave ( amplitude, wavelength, and purity) translate into the three psychological properties of loudness, pitch, and timbre) 1. A wave's amplitude (height of a sound wave) affects the perception of loudness. o Since waves of greater amplitude correspond to vibrations of greater intensity, higher waves correspond to louder sounds o Humans are very sensitive to a very wide range of different sound amplitudes -- as such, loudness is measured using a logarithmic scale of decibels (
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