- paracusis of Willis
- Also known as paracusis Willisii, paracusis Willisiana, false paracusis, paradoxical hearing loss, and paradoxical deafness. The term paracusis of Willis refers to the British physician Thomas Willis (1621-1675), who is credited with having been the first to describe the concomitant phenomenon, which consists of an apparent increase in auditory acuity experienced by individuals with conductive hearing loss when engaged in a conversation taking place against a noisy background. This phenomenon, called paracusis of Willis, has been attributed by some authors to the tendency ofpeople to speak louder in a noisy environment. An alternative explanation is given by the French research scientist Jacques Ninio (b. 1942). After recounting Willis's anecdote about a woman who was in the habit of amplifying her auditory acuity by letting a servant beat a drum when she was spoken to, Ninio asserts that "the interpretation of this paradoxical phenomenon is that the noise, adding to the words, conveys fragments of the speech above the hearing threshold. It would be on the basis of these fragments that the hard-of-hearing woman would reconstruct the whole of the discourse that she would then have the illusion of hearing continuously."ReferencesNinio, J. (2001). The science ofillusions.Trans-lated by Philip, F. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Willis, Th. (1672). De anima brutorum, quae homi-nis vitalis ac sensitiva est, excertitatione duae, prior physiologica, altera pathologica. Oxford: Ric. Davis.
Dictionary of Hallucinations. J.D. Blom. 2010.