So far, the Deming Box experiment is the only one that offers a rigorous design for identifying causative factors in the worldwide Hum. Here I propose another.
The equipment, facilities, and personnel are already in place in any mid-sized to large university with a medical school or graduate psychology department. Any interested researcher could make this happen in short order, as long as a few minor issues surrounding ambient noise levels in the testing environment are attended to.
I scanned the abstracts of several hundred papers over the past 48 hours, focusing on the interactions between VLF/ELF radio energy and living tissue. I turned to infrasound studies a few hours ago and found a fascinating but essentially unknown article. In 2013, three researchers from the University of North Georgia conducted an experiment concerning the well-accepted phenomenon known as the “Missing Fundamental” (MF), which occurs in most people (Lacomba, Lloyd, & Shanks, 2013). That concept itself is so fascinating – and potentially important for our community – that I will explain it in detail in a separate post. In brief, the MF is a tone that the human mind generates when it hears other tones at higher frequencies that naturally occur with the MF. The authors chose tones that would correspond to a MF at 18.5 Hz, which is infrasonic and below normal hearing range. The authors proved that the mind was responding to the infrasonic MF even though the infrasonic sound was not actually there.
But the exciting part is how the authors proved that the mind was responding. When I began learning about how EEGs work, I was startled when I read about the “frequency following response” ((Smith, Marsh, & Brown 1975, and many others). Basically, if you are subjected to, say, an 80 Hz tone, then there will an EEG response at that same frequency. In other words, we can read from an EEG what acoustic frequency the mind is responding to.
The implications of this are mind-boggling. Setting aside for the moment the thrill of scientific adventure and turning back to the Hum, what we need to do is find a graduate school of psychology in a smaller quiet college town that is situated in a quiet corner of campus or on a top floor of a building. For the time being, colleges or universities in the Northern Great Plains might not be suitable, because they may be located in a regional quiet zone. The experiment would happen late at night and, should the authorities agree to it, the building would be evacuated and locked, and power would be cut to as much of the building as possible, but so as to allow for the minimum equipment required. A group of hearers and non-hearers then participate. It would be ideal if hearers from different regions of the country could participate. They acclimatize to their new and quiet surroundings, and after some time the hearers will individually report if they can the Hum.
The Research Questions. These are just a few.
1. Will there be an EEG response to the perceived Hum frequency (or at some other frequencies)? This would, the first time, provide solid physical and scientific proof of the Hum phenomenon to the medical and scientific communities.
2. If so, what are the qualities of the signal’s progression through the auditory system. I had no idea that neuroscientists could chart the path of auditory-evoked electrical signals and locate the specific regions from which the electrical activity initiates, and which structures are involved in the processing. This alone could point at the source of the Hum.
3. Are there any EEG responses from the non-hearers? Is it a reduced response or a flat response?
As this work expands, I need help from the Hum community. In this case, you could be a big part of normalizing and solving the Hum if you could nicely persuade an institution to be part of this.
Lacomba, Christopher D.; Lloyd, Steven A.; and Shanks, Ryan A. (2013) “An Infrasonic Missing Fundamental Rises at 18.5Hz,”Papers
and Publications: Interdisciplinary Journal of Undergraduate Research: Vol. 2: Iss. 1, Article 11.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.northgeorgia.edu/papersandpubs/vol2/iss1/11