Math in the News
Human Hearing Not Constrained by Gabor Limit
Jacob N. Oppenheim and Marcelo Magnasco of the Laboratory of Mathematical Physics at Rockefeller University have conducted experiments indicating that the human brain does not use the Fourier transform when resolving a cacophony of noise into individual sounds and voices.
While the Gabor limit associated with the Fourier transform stipulates that you can't simultaneously determine a sound's frequency and duration, the 12 musicians subjected to Oppenheim and Magnasco's battery of tests beat the limit by as much as a factor of 13.
The Fourier transform cannot, therefore, fully explain the machinations of the human brain. "The actual algorithm employed by our brains is still shrouded in mystery," says Magnasco.
Read New Scientist's coverage.
Read a more in-depth account and listen to sound samples at phys.org.