Volume 124, Issue 4, October 2008
Index of content:
- MUSIC AND MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS 
Neuronal periodicity detection as a basis for the perception of consonance: A mathematical model of tonal fusion124(2008); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.2968688View Description Hide Description
A mathematical model is presented here to explain the sensation of consonance and dissonance on the basis of neuronal coding and the properties of a neuronal periodicity detection mechanism. This mathematical model makes use of physiological data from a neuronal model of periodicity analysis in the midbrain, whose operation can be described mathematically by autocorrelation functions with regard to time windows. Musical intervals produce regular firing patterns in the auditory nerve that depend on the vibration ratio of the two tones. The mathematical model makes it possible to define a measure for the degree of these regularities for each vibration ratio. It turns out that this measure value is in line with the degree of tonal fusion as described by Stumpf [Tonpsychologie (Psychology of Tones) (Knuf, Hilversum), reprinted 1965]. This finding makes it probable that tonal fusion is a consequence of certain properties of the neuronal periodicity detection mechanism. Together with strong roughness resulting from intervaltones with fundamentals close together or close to the octave, this neuronal mechanism may be regarded as the basis of consonance and dissonance.