Volley principle implies that the groups of neurons, or individual fibers, in the auditory system respond to a stimulus, or sound, in succession, while other groups of neurons respond to the second, and the following stimulus.


In 1937, the researchers Ernest Weaver and Charles Bray offered the hearing theory, which included the volley principle. To define the principle in simple words, one can say that when the auditory system experiences high frequency sounds too often, the organ of Corti, located in the cochlea, syndicates multiple sounds into a volley, helping the organ to process the stimuli. Still, the studies conducted later have found out that phase synchrony possesses an ability to code not more than 10,000 Hz. This finding implicates that the volley principle does not apply to all the sounds that the human ear can hear.

Several hearing theories exist to explain the perception of the pitch, and temporal theory and place theory is among them. Those two theories often stand next to the volley principle, and place theory, in turn, is referred to as the recipiency and perception of the sound by the human ear. In such a way, according to place theory, the perception of sounds depends on how the waves of the sound influence the area tympanic membrane, which creates different types of sound. In other words, this theory explains how the human ear perceives such sounds as the pitch of one’s voice or musical tones. In psychology, the principle of the combination of the two theories is sometimes used and got the name of the place-volley theory. This principle applies the mechanisms of both theories, implying that low pitches are coded by temporal patterns and high tones, in turn, coded by rate-place patterns.