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Plasticity – train your ears


Plasticity is a pitch discrimination game — that is, a game which tests and improves your ability to distinguish between similar sounds based on their frequency (pitch). You hear two sounds, which may have the same or different frequency (with 50-50 probability) and your job is to say whether they have the same frequency or different frequencies. At first, the differences are fairly obvious, but as you level up, they become smaller and smaller, which makes your job harder.

Plasticity can be a fun game to play (at least, if you believe some of my friends). In addition, it might be helpful if you want to improve your pitch discrimination skills – for example, if you’re a musician.

Plasticity is based on the Firefox Audio API and, as such, requires Firefox 4 or higher. Plasticity uses the HTML5 Web Audio API. It has been tested to work (at least) in recent versions of Chrome, Firefox and Safari – including mobile devices (in the latest release).

I wrote Plasticity to treat my tinnitus (a phantom sound in my head). The idea was to re-wire the auditory cortex in my brain through repeated training in order to change my perception of the tinnitus sound. The name “Plasticity” refers to cortical plasticity – the ability of the cortex to reorganize in response to stimuli. Did Plasticity help my tinnitus? Well, I no longer have a tinnitus problem, though I am not sure to what extent Plasticity contributed to the improvement. If you have tinnitus (especially pure-tone tinnitus), you might as well give it a try. Here are some tips on how to use Plasticity for tinnitus.

Feedback request

If you’re using Plasticity for your tinnitus, don’t forget to post a comment below. I want to know how it went!

182 Comments so far

  • Rod Niall Cantlay

    Is it possible that the 2nd tone,when the pitches are the same,seems a little louder,therefore giving the impression that this is a change in pitch or is my brain “filling in” the information?
    I’m very interested in finding out because I very often get this wrong and mistake the same (S) pitches for different (D) ones.
    Thank you,

  • Cornelius Weiß

    Hey Tomasz,

    many thanks for your effort here!

    I have a pure tone tinnitus (left side only at about 11khz). My second attempt already lead me to level 13… let’s see where this brings me.

  • Leo Lip

    Great website, thanks for keeping it up without ads!

  • Simon

    Your tone generator somehow switches off my tinnitus for a very short period of time (like seconds..) and it is the first real silence since like forever. Thank you!
    Also i like your game 🙂

  • Jack

    I think it’s better to use speakers than headphones, because you need to bear in mind the wavelength of the tone as well as the frequency. I haven’t used this site yet, as I don’t have speakers connected to my computer at the moment and plan to. But a few years ago I did some experiments with a tone generator, messing with different tones in a room. I realized that as I moved around in the room the sounds changed, and it was because the wavelengths were hitting my eardrums at precise points. In fact I could feel the nodes of the waves move through my head from ear to ear, and I could tickle my eardrums once I located a precise node or antinode. So it’s worth using speakers so you can move away from them as needed.

    Try it if you like. Pick a tone that has a short wavelength, such as F8 for example, has a frequency of 5587.65 Hz and a wavelength of 6.17 cm, which means you can move your head 6.17 away from or towards the source of the tone and hear the node and antinode move between each eardrum. It’s interesting stuff.

  • Bob Ritchie

    As I go through the tinnitus game a significant percentage have no sound at all. My answers then are variable right-wrong. My computer is a Macintosh Pro and the sound level is at maximum but many of your questions have no sound. This is a significant negative.

  • Dave Hart

    I find that the tones are played with too rapid a tempo. The first tone is cut very short and the second tone lasts much longer, which means you hear the tail of the tone on the second one and not on the first one. This makes them sound slightly different and leads to incorrect answers.

    I think a better test would be to play both tones for the same duration.

    Apart from that, I’m enjoying playing the exercise

  • Igor

    Could we get an extra hard mode with -_, –, _- three buttons?

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