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Auditory Perception

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Abstract

The sections in this article are:

1 General Anatomy
1.1 Outer Ear
1.2 Middle Ear
1.3 Inner Ear
1.4 Cochlear Innervation
1.5 Contrast With Eye
2 Background of Auditory Research
2.1 Before 1800
2.2 Nineteenth Century
2.3 Electronic Era
2.4 World War II to Present
2.5 null
3 Discrimination
3.1 Discrimination of Signal From Internal Noise—Absolute Threshold
3.2 Detection of Sinusoids in Noise
3.3 Intensity Discrimination of a Noise Increment
3.4 Intensity Discrimination of an Increment in a Sinusoid
3.5 Detection of One Sinusoid in the Presence of Another
3.6 Psychophysical Tuning Curves
3.7 Frequency Discrimination
4 Space Perception
4.1 Localization in an Anechoic Environment
4.2 Rayleigh—The Duplex Theory
4.3 Modern Work on the Duplex Theory
4.4 Envelope Cues
4.5 Localization in Natural Environments
4.6 Transient Signals
4.7 Binaural Masking Level Differences
5 Temporal Properties
5.1 Temporal Integration
5.2 Temporal Masking
5.3 Temporal Acuity and Temporal Order
5.4 Frequency Channels and Auditory Stream Segregation
6 Pitch Perception
6.1 Wave Form Analysis
6.2 History
6.3 Psychoacoustic Characteristics of Hearing‐Impaired Ears
7 Animal Psychophysical Data
7.1 Absolute Thresholds
7.2 Critical Bands and Critical Ratios
7.3 Frequency Discrimination
7.4 Intensity Discrimination
7.5 Temporal Integration
7.6 Conclusions
Figure 1. Figure 1.

Major divisions of peripheral auditory system. A: outer, middle, and inner ear. B: enlarged portion of middle ear showing the three major bones. C: mechanical analogues of outer and middle ear.[Adapted from Green .]

Figure 2. Figure 2.

Average gain in acoustic pressure for each anatomical component of external human ear for an azimuth of 45°, assuming they were added in order shown. Total gain, T, is pressure transformation from free field to eardrum at azimuth of 45°. Curve 1, data from spherical head; curve 2, from torso and neck; curve 3, from concha; curve 4, from pinna flange; curve 5, from ear canal and eardrum.

Adapted from Shaw
Figure 3. Figure 3.

Structural features of cochlea. A: cochlea in relation to middle ear, vestibular channels (partially illustrated), and the auditory nerve. B: cross section of cochlea. C: structures within the scala media.

Adapted from Green
Figure 4. Figure 4.

Schematic representation of afferent cochlear innervation. Note that preponderance of afferents innervate a nearby inner hair cell. Only 1 in 20 cross to diffusely innervate the outer hair cells.

Adapted from Spoendlin
Figure 5. Figure 5.

Mean values of ΔI/I (smallest detectable intensity change vs. base intensity of sine wave) as a function of sensation level (SL) in dB. Data are means of 3 subjects. The parameter is the frequency of the sinusoid. Error bars indicate ± 3 SEM, and are displayed when the standard error exceeds the size of the symbol. Solid lines represent the identical function fit to all 8 frequency conditions.

From data of Jesteadt, Wier, and Green
Figure 6. Figure 6.

Masker is a sinusoid of 1,200 Hz at a sensation level of 80 dB. Line shows threshold value of the signal in sensation level as a function of frequency. Signal can be heard in the presence of the masker above the solid line but not below it. [A single condition from an experiment by Wegel and Lane .]

Figure 7. Figure 7.

Change in threshold for a signal as a function of the sensation level of a 1,200‐Hz masker. Parameter is signal frequency (in Hz). Near the masker frequency there is almost a linear increase in signal threshold with increased masker level.

[Adapted from Wegel and Lane
Figure 8. Figure 8.

Masker level (sound pressure level) needed to just mask a fixed signal level as a function of the masker frequency. Signal levels: •, 15 dB; ○, 30 dB. Signal frequency 6,400 Hz.

Adapted from Small
Figure 9. Figure 9.

The just detectable change in frequency (Δf) as a function of signal frequency for a 40‐dB sensation level sinusoid. Heavy line is empirical function fit to data of Wier, Jesteadt, and Green . Nordmark's data were multiplied by to try to adjust for differences in procedure . Data were obtained from the following sources: •, Wier, Jesteadt, and Green ; ○, Henning ; □, Harris ; Δ, Nordmark ; ▿, Rosenblith and Stevens ; ⋄, Moore ; +, Shower and Biddulph . All data were obtained with gated sinusoids except those of Shower and Biddulph, who used a modulation procedure.

Figure 10. Figure 10.

The just detectable change in frequency (Δf) as a function of signal frequency. Mean data from 4 subjects. Parameter is sensation level (SL) of the sinusoid. Error bars indicate ±3 SEM, where the standard error exceeds the size of symbol.

From data of Wier, Jesteadt, and Green
Figure 11. Figure 11.

Stimulus conditions in the “precedence experiment.” Two clicks are presented, within a brief interval, to both ears. First click to left ear arrives Δ1 before first click to right ear. Second click to right ear arrives Δt2 before second click to left ear. The subject hears a single sound, and by adjusting Δt2, can “center” the image, thus offsetting Δt1.

Adapted from Green
Figure 12. Figure 12.

The just detectable difference in intensity (ΔI/I) as a function of signal duration. Parameter is signal frequency. Stimulus power was held constant as duration changed. ○, 250 Hz; □, 1,000 Hz; ▵, 8,000 Hz; ⋄, 4,000 Hz.

From data of Henning
Figure 13. Figure 13.

The just detectable change in frequency (Δf/f) as a function of signal duration. Parameter is signal frequency. ○, Mean of 2 subjects, using a two‐alternative forced‐choice procedure, from data of Henning . ▵, From 1 subject; ▿, mean of 2 subjects using a two‐alternative forced‐choice procedure; from data of Moore . ♦, Plotted values of Δf/f normalized with regard to data for 40‐dB sensation level, 500‐ms tones, from Wier, Jesteadt, and Green .

Figure 14. Figure 14.

A periodic pulse train. If Ta = Tb = 2 ms, the pitch is 500 Hz; if Ta = 2 ms + 50 μs and Tb = 2 ms − 50 μs, the pitch is an octave lower, namely 250 Hz.

Figure 15. Figure 15.

Mean results from 3 groups of subjects of cross‐modality matching on an auditory stimulus (1,000‐Hz tone) of various inten‐ sities with magnitude of vibration (150 Hz)applied to middle finger of the hand.

Adapted from Stevens ,based on data of Thalmann
Figure 16. Figure 16.

A: audiogram of an 80‐yr‐old man showing the descending pattern of loss characteristic of presbycusis. Darkened areas in the 3 bar graphs indicate areas of abnormality found upon histological examination. There are small areas of hair cell loss at basal end of the 10–15 mm region; there is striking diffuse loss of cochlear neurons, most severe at the basal end. B: audiogram of a 27‐yr‐old female patient with severe renal failure who received an initial dose of 1 g kanamycin followed by 0.25 g every other day for a total of 3 g over a period of 18 days. Tinnitus and high‐frequency hearing loss developed on the 18th day, after which there was no further change on repeated testing. She died two weeks after completion of therapy. Histology shows a severe loss of hair cells in the basal 15 mm of the cochlea. The population of cochlear neurons was normal. C: audiogram of a 28‐yr‐old man in the early stages of Ménière's disease in which hearing loss is only at low frequencies. D: audiogram of a 20‐yr‐old patient before administration of salicylates (top), during salicylate intoxication (bottom), and 24 h after discontinuing administration of salicylates (middle).

Adapted from Schuknecht
Figure 17. Figure 17.

Thresholds of detectability in sound pressure level (SPL) in dB. ○, Cat, free field, monaural listening, from data of Elliott et al. ; □, chinchilla, free field, monaural listening, from data of Miller ; ▿, guinea pig, free field, binaural listening, from data of Heffner et al. ; ⋄, squirrel monkey, free field, binaural listening, from data of Beecher ; ▵, macaque, earphones, binaural listening, from data of Stebbins, Green, and Miller ; heavy line, human, free field, monaural listening, from data of Sivian and White .

Figure 18. Figure 18.

Critical bands (open symbols) and critical ratios (closed symbols). ▵, ▴, Cat, free field, monaural listening, from data of Pickles ; ▪, chinchilla, free field, monaural listening, from data of Miller ; ▿, monkey, earphones, monaural listening, from data of Gourevitch ; ⋄, ♦, chinchilla, free field, monaural listening, from data of Seaton and Trahiotis ; •, cat, free‐field, monaural listening, from data of Watson . Solid line fit to data of Zwicker expressed in equation , where f is frequency in Hz and Δf is bandwidth in Hz.

Figure 19. Figure 19.

The just detectable change in frequency, Δf as a function of stimulus frequency. •, Cat, free field, monaural listening, 40‐dB sensation level, from data of Elliott et al. ; ▪, guinea pig, free field, binaural listening, 30‐dB sensation level, from data of Heffner et al. ; ♦, chinchilla, free field, binaural listening, 70‐dB sensation level, from data of Nelson and Kiester ; ▴, monkey, earphones, binaural listening, 60‐dB sensation level, from data of Stebbins . Heavy line is empirical function fitted to the human data from Wier, Jesteadt, and Green .

Figure 20. Figure 20.

The just detectable change in intensity (ΔI/I) as a function of stimulus frequency. ○, Cat, free field, monaural listening, 60‐dB sensation level, from data of Elliott and McGee ; •, monkey, earphones, binaural listening, 60 dB sensation level, from data of Stebbins . Dot‐dash line is from prediction equation [ΔI/I = 0.463 (I/I0)−0.072, where I0 is 0‐dB sensation level], fitted to human data from Jesteadt, Wier, and Green , evaluated for 60‐dB sensation level.

Figure 21. Figure 21.

Detection thresholds as a function of signal duration for 2,000‐Hz sinusoid. ○, Henderson's data from chinchilla; •, Plomp and Bouman's data from human listeners.



Figure 1.

Major divisions of peripheral auditory system. A: outer, middle, and inner ear. B: enlarged portion of middle ear showing the three major bones. C: mechanical analogues of outer and middle ear.[Adapted from Green .]



Figure 2.

Average gain in acoustic pressure for each anatomical component of external human ear for an azimuth of 45°, assuming they were added in order shown. Total gain, T, is pressure transformation from free field to eardrum at azimuth of 45°. Curve 1, data from spherical head; curve 2, from torso and neck; curve 3, from concha; curve 4, from pinna flange; curve 5, from ear canal and eardrum.

Adapted from Shaw


Figure 3.

Structural features of cochlea. A: cochlea in relation to middle ear, vestibular channels (partially illustrated), and the auditory nerve. B: cross section of cochlea. C: structures within the scala media.

Adapted from Green


Figure 4.

Schematic representation of afferent cochlear innervation. Note that preponderance of afferents innervate a nearby inner hair cell. Only 1 in 20 cross to diffusely innervate the outer hair cells.

Adapted from Spoendlin


Figure 5.

Mean values of ΔI/I (smallest detectable intensity change vs. base intensity of sine wave) as a function of sensation level (SL) in dB. Data are means of 3 subjects. The parameter is the frequency of the sinusoid. Error bars indicate ± 3 SEM, and are displayed when the standard error exceeds the size of the symbol. Solid lines represent the identical function fit to all 8 frequency conditions.

From data of Jesteadt, Wier, and Green


Figure 6.

Masker is a sinusoid of 1,200 Hz at a sensation level of 80 dB. Line shows threshold value of the signal in sensation level as a function of frequency. Signal can be heard in the presence of the masker above the solid line but not below it. [A single condition from an experiment by Wegel and Lane .]



Figure 7.

Change in threshold for a signal as a function of the sensation level of a 1,200‐Hz masker. Parameter is signal frequency (in Hz). Near the masker frequency there is almost a linear increase in signal threshold with increased masker level.

[Adapted from Wegel and Lane


Figure 8.

Masker level (sound pressure level) needed to just mask a fixed signal level as a function of the masker frequency. Signal levels: •, 15 dB; ○, 30 dB. Signal frequency 6,400 Hz.

Adapted from Small


Figure 9.

The just detectable change in frequency (Δf) as a function of signal frequency for a 40‐dB sensation level sinusoid. Heavy line is empirical function fit to data of Wier, Jesteadt, and Green . Nordmark's data were multiplied by to try to adjust for differences in procedure . Data were obtained from the following sources: •, Wier, Jesteadt, and Green ; ○, Henning ; □, Harris ; Δ, Nordmark ; ▿, Rosenblith and Stevens ; ⋄, Moore ; +, Shower and Biddulph . All data were obtained with gated sinusoids except those of Shower and Biddulph, who used a modulation procedure.



Figure 10.

The just detectable change in frequency (Δf) as a function of signal frequency. Mean data from 4 subjects. Parameter is sensation level (SL) of the sinusoid. Error bars indicate ±3 SEM, where the standard error exceeds the size of symbol.

From data of Wier, Jesteadt, and Green


Figure 11.

Stimulus conditions in the “precedence experiment.” Two clicks are presented, within a brief interval, to both ears. First click to left ear arrives Δ1 before first click to right ear. Second click to right ear arrives Δt2 before second click to left ear. The subject hears a single sound, and by adjusting Δt2, can “center” the image, thus offsetting Δt1.

Adapted from Green


Figure 12.

The just detectable difference in intensity (ΔI/I) as a function of signal duration. Parameter is signal frequency. Stimulus power was held constant as duration changed. ○, 250 Hz; □, 1,000 Hz; ▵, 8,000 Hz; ⋄, 4,000 Hz.

From data of Henning


Figure 13.

The just detectable change in frequency (Δf/f) as a function of signal duration. Parameter is signal frequency. ○, Mean of 2 subjects, using a two‐alternative forced‐choice procedure, from data of Henning . ▵, From 1 subject; ▿, mean of 2 subjects using a two‐alternative forced‐choice procedure; from data of Moore . ♦, Plotted values of Δf/f normalized with regard to data for 40‐dB sensation level, 500‐ms tones, from Wier, Jesteadt, and Green .



Figure 14.

A periodic pulse train. If Ta = Tb = 2 ms, the pitch is 500 Hz; if Ta = 2 ms + 50 μs and Tb = 2 ms − 50 μs, the pitch is an octave lower, namely 250 Hz.



Figure 15.

Mean results from 3 groups of subjects of cross‐modality matching on an auditory stimulus (1,000‐Hz tone) of various inten‐ sities with magnitude of vibration (150 Hz)applied to middle finger of the hand.

Adapted from Stevens ,based on data of Thalmann


Figure 16.

A: audiogram of an 80‐yr‐old man showing the descending pattern of loss characteristic of presbycusis. Darkened areas in the 3 bar graphs indicate areas of abnormality found upon histological examination. There are small areas of hair cell loss at basal end of the 10–15 mm region; there is striking diffuse loss of cochlear neurons, most severe at the basal end. B: audiogram of a 27‐yr‐old female patient with severe renal failure who received an initial dose of 1 g kanamycin followed by 0.25 g every other day for a total of 3 g over a period of 18 days. Tinnitus and high‐frequency hearing loss developed on the 18th day, after which there was no further change on repeated testing. She died two weeks after completion of therapy. Histology shows a severe loss of hair cells in the basal 15 mm of the cochlea. The population of cochlear neurons was normal. C: audiogram of a 28‐yr‐old man in the early stages of Ménière's disease in which hearing loss is only at low frequencies. D: audiogram of a 20‐yr‐old patient before administration of salicylates (top), during salicylate intoxication (bottom), and 24 h after discontinuing administration of salicylates (middle).

Adapted from Schuknecht


Figure 17.

Thresholds of detectability in sound pressure level (SPL) in dB. ○, Cat, free field, monaural listening, from data of Elliott et al. ; □, chinchilla, free field, monaural listening, from data of Miller ; ▿, guinea pig, free field, binaural listening, from data of Heffner et al. ; ⋄, squirrel monkey, free field, binaural listening, from data of Beecher ; ▵, macaque, earphones, binaural listening, from data of Stebbins, Green, and Miller ; heavy line, human, free field, monaural listening, from data of Sivian and White .



Figure 18.

Critical bands (open symbols) and critical ratios (closed symbols). ▵, ▴, Cat, free field, monaural listening, from data of Pickles ; ▪, chinchilla, free field, monaural listening, from data of Miller ; ▿, monkey, earphones, monaural listening, from data of Gourevitch ; ⋄, ♦, chinchilla, free field, monaural listening, from data of Seaton and Trahiotis ; •, cat, free‐field, monaural listening, from data of Watson . Solid line fit to data of Zwicker expressed in equation , where f is frequency in Hz and Δf is bandwidth in Hz.



Figure 19.

The just detectable change in frequency, Δf as a function of stimulus frequency. •, Cat, free field, monaural listening, 40‐dB sensation level, from data of Elliott et al. ; ▪, guinea pig, free field, binaural listening, 30‐dB sensation level, from data of Heffner et al. ; ♦, chinchilla, free field, binaural listening, 70‐dB sensation level, from data of Nelson and Kiester ; ▴, monkey, earphones, binaural listening, 60‐dB sensation level, from data of Stebbins . Heavy line is empirical function fitted to the human data from Wier, Jesteadt, and Green .



Figure 20.

The just detectable change in intensity (ΔI/I) as a function of stimulus frequency. ○, Cat, free field, monaural listening, 60‐dB sensation level, from data of Elliott and McGee ; •, monkey, earphones, binaural listening, 60 dB sensation level, from data of Stebbins . Dot‐dash line is from prediction equation [ΔI/I = 0.463 (I/I0)−0.072, where I0 is 0‐dB sensation level], fitted to human data from Jesteadt, Wier, and Green , evaluated for 60‐dB sensation level.



Figure 21.

Detection thresholds as a function of signal duration for 2,000‐Hz sinusoid. ○, Henderson's data from chinchilla; •, Plomp and Bouman's data from human listeners.

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David M. Green, Craig C. Wier. Auditory Perception. Compr Physiol 2011, Supplement 3: Handbook of Physiology, The Nervous System, Sensory Processes: 557-594. First published in print 1984. doi: 10.1002/cphy.cp010313