Are your ears right or left handed?

Diana Deutsch is a Professor of Psychology who specialises in perception of sound and music. For example, she's studied how left and right-handed people hear sound differently. If you listen to the sound files on this page, and you're right handed, she would expect you to hear most of the higher-pitched bleeps in the right ear. Flip your headphones round, and see if the higher pitches move. Listen to the two channels seperately, and they're identical arpeggios. Apparently if you're left handed, you'll hear the higher notes on the left. Worked for me, anyway. This, she suggests, is why the more high-pitched instruments are on the right hand side of the orchestra (and the piano keyboard). More like this on her albums. (Thanks, Mikey)


Comments:
I found myself extremely confused when listening to the sample. At first the beeps were equal between ears, but eventually it sounded to me as if the high pitched beeps in the right ear were almost rolling in the middle of my head, and eventually gave way to a flatter, lower pitched beep. The left ear dominated.

Once I was done listening, I read the article on your site, flipped my headphones, and then found for a moment the beeps were in the right ear, but eventually gave way to the left.

The interesting part: I'm right handed.
 
Listening to it on headphones, there seemed to be some sort of weird delay between the two channels -- either that, or my brain is just screwed up. So, I decided to stick my head right in between my monitors... still did the weird swirling delay thing (I could actually hear the sound 'thinning out' as I turned my head to one side), but the highest pitched note was actually alternating between left and right perfectly regularly.
 
When I first tried it, it DID work, i.e. I'm right-handed and the high pitches were on the right. Then I read your post and listened again and this time I was able to convince myself the opposite was true. It all depends on which side you 'focus' on (aurally). Woo hoo! I win! wait...

Sorry, but I hope Diana isn't eating up too much of the school budget on this nonsense!

(I do like the fact that you, Tom, posted such nonsense for us to try)
 
Thanks for the relief!
I thought that I had a bad left ear when I noticed that I hear higher sounds better on the right ear than on the left, low tones seem to be equally loud in both of my ears.
Cool to know I'm not going deaf :)
 
Note: In my experience, Deutsch's "Musical Illusions and Paradoxes" is absolutely the worst CD in the entire world to rip to MP3, if you use ISC joint stereo encoding. The reason for this is left as an exercise for the reader.

Thank you.
 
I'm a southpaw, but I heard the higher tones primarily in the right ear, and the lower tones mainly on the left.
 
I'm left handed.

For me, the high pitch beeps were exclusively on the left. When I flipped the headphoens around, the high pitch beeps were on the right.

What I can't make sense of though, is that in the original position, the lower blips dominated the "song" and in the flipped position, the higher beeps dominated the "song."

So, it seems to me that accoridng to this test my ears are left handed, with the high beeps on the left - but the overall experience had the sound coming in my right ear as dominating the sound of the whole "song."
 
I'm right handed, and I heard the highest freq ping-pong back and forth between left and right...although I'll agree that on the right it sounded a bit lower in pitch.
I used speakers (recently recalibrated studio monitors) and listened to the MP3.
 
I'm an alien, I'm a legal alien
I'm an englishman in new yoRrrrrrK
 
aha i tried this. i think im musically ambidextrous. lol
 
Hard fact:

If you are a musician or dj you will notice how you tend to place your amp on the same side when playing or use the same ear when mixing (In my case I'm lefthanded and always place my amp on my right side).
This certanly contributes to reduce the ability on the more exposed ear to hear all frequencies , therefore the left/right effect you hear on that sample.

Guess which side I heard the high frequencies?

Left of course!!!!

Now, don't call me on this, but I belive I saw somewhere that left/right ears never have equal abilities for all frequencies, no matter how well you take care of your ears or how young/old you are, so there you have the explanation for variations on the results.

And I needed no school budget to find out this, just my ears and 17 years playing music :)
 
When I tried this, the higher pitch was in the right here and the left ear sounded lower. Then I switched them and just the opposite was true. So...
 
The higher pitch sample is played in 'antiphase' between the left and right side. The bass notes are a different length sample and out of phase as well. This is easy to hear if you only listen to one headphone. Also, with both cans, if you 'listen' for the arpeggio on the left you can hear it on the left, if you listen for it on the right you can hear it on the right.
 
Hmm interesting orchestra comment. True, the higher pitched instruments are usually seated on the left if you are looking at the audience from the stage. That means the higher pitches are closer to the players' right ears and so they will most likely hear the high pitches better, right? Which also means that the conductor and audience are at a disadvantage because the high pitches are nearer their left ears...
 
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