Article ID: CBB277780137

Purkyně’s Opistophone: the hearing ‘Deaf’, auditory attention and organic subjectivity in Prague psychophysical experiments, ca 1850s (2022)

unapi

The paper examines the little-known experiments in audition performed by the prominent experimental physiologist Jan Purkyně in Prague in the 1850s. Purkyně’s original research on spatial hearing and auditory attention is studied against the backdrop of the nineteenth century research on binaural audition and the nascent field of psychophysics. The article revolves around an acoustic research instrument of Purkyně’s own making, the opistophone, in which hearing became both an object of investigation and an instrument of scientific inquiry. It argues that Purkyně’s understanding of auditory attention, which combined acoustic stimulation, physiological conditions, and sensory training, preceded a similar approach to hearing in psychophysical debates in the second half of the nineteenth century. Purkyně was the first scholar to experimentally investigate intracranial sounds, which he studied in his experiments with the inmates of the Prague Institute of Deaf-Mutes. This research on intracranial hearing was part of Purkyně’s study of so-called organic subjectivity, in which subjective hearing experience was interpreted as the result of the interaction between individual perception and objective acoustic phenomena.

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Authors & Contributors
Blume, Stuart S.
Jepsen, Kim Sune
Danielle Coriale
Ruben E. Verwaal
Adin E. Lears
B. Josh Doty
Journals
Social Studies of Science
Science, Technology, and Human Values
Science in Context
Public Understanding of Science
Medical History
History of Science
Publishers
Rutgers University Press
Cornell University Press
Harvard University
The University of North Carolina Press
University of Chicago Press
Chronos Verlag
Concepts
Auditory perception
Deafness
Human physiology
Human body
Hearing aids
Medical technology
People
Helmholtz, Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von
Succi, Giovanni
Stumpf, Carl
Mach, Ernst
Galton, Francis
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
Modern
Medieval
21st century
Places
England
United States
Argentina
Netherlands
Europe
Denmark
Institutions
American Telephone and Telegraph Company
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