A novel binaural pitch elicited by phase-modulated noise: MEG and psychophysical observations

Caroline Witton, Arjan Hillebrand, Paul L. Furlong, G. Bruce Henning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Binaural pitches are auditory percepts that emerge from combined inputs to the ears but that cannot be heard if the stimulus is presented to either ear alone. Here, we describe a binaural pitch that is not easily accommodated within current models of binaural processing. Convergent magnetoencephalography (MEG) and psychophysical measurements were used to characterize the pitch, heard when band-limited noise had a rapidly changing interaural phase difference. Several interesting features emerged: First, the pitch was perceptually lateralized, in agreement with the lateralization of the evoked changes in MEG spectral power, and its salience depended on dichotic binaural presentation. Second, the frequency of the pure tone that matched the binaural pitch lay within a lower spectral sideband of the phase-modulated noise and followed the frequency of that sideband when the modulation frequency or center frequency and bandwidth of the noise changed. Thus, the binaural pitch depended on the processing of binaural information in that lower sideband.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1271-1281
Number of pages11
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number6
Early online date10 Aug 2011
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


  • beamforming
  • binaural pitch
  • Heschl’s gyrus
  • lateralization
  • MEG
  • planum temporale


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