AUDL 4007  – 2014

Auditory perception

Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences
Division of Psychology & Language Sciences, UCL
Chandler House
2 Wakefield Street
London WC1N 1PF

This unit will provide advanced training in aspects of auditory perception that are particularly relevant to understanding both normal and impaired auditory function. An emphasis will be placed on the fundamental aspects of hearing such as frequency analysis, temporal analysis, pitch perception, intensity perception and binaural processing.
Course Structure: The course is run in the second term only, typically on Thursday afternoons, starting in January 2014. There is no meeting on 27 February but there will be one on 20 February, even though it is reading week. The course comprises a mixture of lectures, demonstrations, laboratory sessions and tutorials. Unless otherwise noted, lectures will be given by Professor Stuart Rosen.

Venue and scheduling: Most sessions start at 14:00 in Chandler House, taking place in Room B07, the basement teaching laboratory. However, the first session will be at 15:00 on Tuesday January 14th in the Ear Institute Lecture Theatre, and the second will be at 11:15 on Wednesday January 15th in room G33 at the Ear Institute.

Week Date Lecture Topic Laboratory Course Work (CW)
1 14 January


15:00 LT EI

Introduction to the course

The auditory periphery

Mathematical interlude: continuous spectra and adding levels

Choose a paper
1 15 January


11:15 G33

Envelope & Temporal Fine Structure (TFS)
1 16 January



Review signals & systems

A cochlear simulation

2 23 January No meeting Paper approved by 27 Jan
3 30 January Pitch perception (Prof A Faulkner) Measuring fundamental frequency in various sounds
4 6 February No meeting Hand in CW 1 by noon on 7 February
5 13 February Frequency selectivity

Intensity & Loudness

Measuring frequency selectivity using notched noise CW 1 returned with comments
6 20 February Temporal resolution Adaptive techniques using gap detection CW 1 handed in re-written
7 27 February Psychoacoustics of hearing impairment Choose paper 2
8 6 March Cochlear Implants Listening to speech in noise with cochlear implant simulations

Paper 2 approved by now

9 13 March Auditory Scene Analysis (Dr M Chait)

10 20 March Binaural hearing (Prof D McAlpine) Bring essay 2 for reading in lab
11 27 March Hearing speech in noise Listening to speech in different kinds of 'noise' CW 2 handed in re-written

Stuart Rosen 020 7679 7404 course organiser
Steve Nevard 020 7679 3156 experimental officer
Dave Cushing 020 7679 7400 laboratory technician

Main text: Plack C. (2005) The Sense of Hearing. Erlbaum.

Supplementary Reading
  • BCJ Moore (ed) (1986) Frequency Selectivity in Hearing. London: Academic Press. Does what it says on the tin, with thorough accounts of the psychoacoustics of frequency selectivity, plus more.
  • S Gelfand (2004) Hearing: An Introduction to Psychological and Physiological Acoustics, Fourth Edition, Revised and Expanded. A nearly complete resource for anatomy, physiology and psychoacoustics. Especially good on the middle ear.
  • R Plomp (2002) The Intelligent Ear, Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah New Jersey. A very accessible account of hearing.
  • BCJ Moore (2003). An Introduction to the Psychology of Hearing, 5th ed. (Academic Press). A very complete guide to the literature, but at an advanced level.
  • WA Yost (2006) Fundamentals of Hearing: An Introduction, 5th ed. (Academic Press). A more elementary exposition. Particularly good on the anatomy & physiology.
  • J Schnupp, E Nelken & A King (2010) Auditory Neuroscience: Making Sense of Sound (MIT Press). A new book with much more discussion of the neural substrates of perception, and focus on a more limited range of topics. Worth a look. There is also an extensive web site containing animations and demonstrations.
  • D Moore, P Fuchs, A Palmer, A Rees & C Plack (2010) Oxford Handbook of Auditory Science: The Ear, The Auditory Brain, Hearing

Assessment for the BSc and PLING 304
  • 2 pieces of coursework, each worth 15% of the final mark (max 1000 words each), both based on doing the work of a science journalist by summarising a chosen paper in a style suitable for a quality daily newspaper. You will received feedback on one version of this, and re-write.
  • A 2-hour written paper (70%)
You must pass the final exam to pass the course.

Final exam

The final exam for the BSc students will take place in the main exam period. It will consist of a set of 6 essay type questions, of which you must answer 5. This allows 24 mins/question. Generally speaking, there is a straightforward question associated with one or more lecture topics, as for the exams in 2009 and 2008. The exam in 2007 was in a slightly different format.

Here are some example questions with tips for model answers.

Course work

Write two articles for a lay audience summarizing the crucial results of a journal article relevant to this course, in a style appropriate for a quality daily newspaper The use of graphics and diagrams is more than welcome, but is not required. Below you will find a few articles that would be appropriate, but please choose your own. You must email the .pdf first so I can assess its suitability. A good source of relevant papers can be found in the following journals, although other,more general journals, can sometimes have appropriate studies too (e.g., Nature and Science). You can gain access to these through the UCL library page

  • Journal of the Acoustical Society of America in the Psychological Acoustics section. This is the pre-eminent journal in the field with a wide variety of studies concerning both normal and impaired hearing.
  • Ear & Hearing Oriented more towards clinically-relevant issues.
  • International Journal of Audiology
  • JARO (Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology)
  • Hearing Research
  • Audiology & Neuro-otology
  • Attention, Perception & Psychophysics (formerly known as Perception & Psychophysics )

The following are examples of articles that would be appropriate, but please do not use these. Get an article from within last 3 years or so. Ensure that the articule you select is not a review article in which much of the work is done for you already! It must be a primary research paper, although an appropriate meta-analysis of a some clinical procedure might be OK. Read any article you propose to use beforehand to ensure that it can be explained to a lay audience! Note that you may need to read ahead of the syllabus for some topics.

  • Baker, R. J. & Rosen, S. (2002). Auditory filter nonlinearity in mild/moderate hearing impairment. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 111, 1330-1339.
  • Kong, Y. Y., Cruz, R., Jones, J. A., & Zeng, F. G. (2004).Music perception with temporal cues in acoustic and electric hearing. Ear and Hearing, 25, 173-185.
  • Musiek, F. E., Shinn, J. B., Jirsa, R., Bamiou, D. E., Baran, J. A., & Zaidan, E. (2005). GIN (Gaps-In-Noise) test performance in subjects with confirmed central auditory nervous system involvement. Ear and Hearing, 26, 608-618.
  • Neuman, A. C., Haravon, A., Sislian, N., & Waltzman, S. B. (2007). Sound-direction identification with bilateral cochlear implants. Ear and Hearing, 28, 73-82.
  • van Hoesel, R., Ramsden, R., & O'Driscoll, M. (2002). Sound-direction identification, interaural time delay discrimination, and speech intelligibility advantages in noise for a bilateral cochlear implant user. Ear and Hearing, 23, 137-149.
  • Yasin, I. & Plack, C. J. (2005). Psychophysical tuning curves at very high frequencies. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 118, 2498-2506.

Articles should be 1000 words or less. Your article should introduce the basic topic and discuss the motivation of the author(s) in doing the study, as well report the results and their implications. Ensure you use language any reasonably well-educated person could understand. Do not simply paraphrase (or outright plagiarise!) the author(s). Unlike an article in the popular press, you should have a reference list. An appropriate style can be found in this example, this one or this one, all from Nature News. Again, use the library page to access the ejournal and locate the full article by date.

You will submit your work in hard copy and in an email to me. Please also submit a hard copy of the article your essay was based on. For the BSc Audiology and any others doing both pieces of coursework, the following deadlines are crucial:

  • 22 January: Choose a paper and email the title and the pdf to for approval
  • 6 February: Hand in essay 1
  • 13 February: Essay 1 returned with comments
  • 20 February: Hand in rewritten final version of essay 1 to be marked
  • 27 February: After looking at the comments on essay 1, choose and have approved a second paper (in a different topic area) by email to
  • 20 March: Bring two hard copies (double-spaced) of essay 2 to the lab session, where fellow students will read them and give you feedback. Also please bring in one hard copy of the paper you are discussing.
  • 27 March: Hand in final version of essay 2 to be marked

Week by Week

This website will be updated frequently though the term. You can see how the teaching in previous years has run for 2013, 2012 and 2011. Journal articles that are suggested reading are readily accessible through the reading list in Moodle.

Week 1: Introduction to the course, a review of peripheral auditory physiology & technical preludes to frequency selectivity

Suggested readings
  • You need to be reasonably familiar with the basic concepts of signals & systems analysis, as detailed in Signals and Systems for Speech and Hearing. A lab session later in the week will review this material.
  • Chapters 1-3 in Plack also summarise the basic aspects of acoustics, signals & systems you need to be familiar with, with Chapter 4 covering the basic physiology.
  • Schnupp et al. too cover these areas well, with a different focus and more emphasis on the physiology of the ear.
  • Yost's chapters 6-9 on the anatomy and physiology are very clear, extensive and easy to get to grips with.
  • Chapter 12 in Signals and Systems for Speech and Hearing, 2nd edition gives a thorough summary of the ear as a signal processor.

Week 2: Envelope and Temporal Fine Structure (TFS) & Frequency Selectivity

Suggested readings
  • Rosen, S. (1992) Temporal information in speech: Acoustic, auditory and linguistic aspects. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B, 336: 367-373.
  • Ch 5 in Plack.

Week 3: Pitch perception (Prof A Faulkner)

Read Ch 7 in Plack and Ch 3 in Schnupp et al.

Week 4: Intensity and loudness

Read Ch 6 in Plack.

Week 5: Temporal resolution

Read Ch 8 in Plack.

Week 6: Psychoacoustics of hearing impairment

For more on the psychoacoustics of hearing impairment (available through the reading List on Moodle), read:
  • Moore, B. C. J. (1987). "Psychophysics of Normal and Impaired Hearing," British Medical Bulletin 43, 887-908.
  • Moore, B. C. J. (1996). "Perceptual consequences of cochlear hearing loss and their implications for the design of hearing," Ear and Hearing 17, 133-161.
  • Moore, B. C. J. (2002). "Psychoacoustics of normal and impaired hearing," British Medical Bulletin 63, 121-134.

This is a really excellent summary about auditory compression and hearing loss and this short article describes dead regions in a very informative way.

Week 7: Cochlear implants

Suggested readings
  • Chapter 8 in Schnupp et al. 'Auditory Prostheses: From the Lab to the Clinic and Back Again'. Associated web site here.
  • A good overview:
    Wilson, B. S. & Dorman, M. F. (2008). Cochlear implants: Current designs and future possibilities. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 45, 695-730.
  • Although a little bit out-of-date, most of the basic concepts are explained well in here. Perhaps useful only to read up to about p 6:
    Loizou, P. C. (1999). "Introduction to cochlear implants," IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine 18, 32-42.
  • More than you want to know about speech processing schemes:
    Loizou, P. C. (1999b). "Signal-processing techniques for cochlear implants - A review of progress in deriving electrical stimuli from the speech signal," IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine 18, 34-46.
  • Although I haven't read it myself, this book comes highly recommended if you really want to learn a lot about CIs:
    Programming Cochlear Implants (Core Clincal Concepts in Audiology) Jace Wolfe & Ein Schafer
    Publication Date: March 31, 2010 (ISBN-10: 1597563722, ISBN-13: 978-1597563727)

Week 8: Auditory Scene Analysis (Dr M Chait)

Suggested readings
  • Ch 10 in Plack
  • Bregman, A. S. (1993). "Auditory scene analysis: Listening in complex environments," in Thinking in Sound, edited by McAdams, S. E. and Bigand, E. (Oxford University Press,London), pp.10-36.
  • Ch 6 in Schnupp et al. might also be useful, and the accompanying web site has some good demonstrations.
  • A very extensive description about ASA, with lots of interesting audio demonstrations, can be found on this web site by Al Bregman.

Week 9: Binaural hearing (Prof D McAlpine)

Read Ch 9 in Plack. Ch 5 in Schnupp et al. could also be useful.

Week 10: Hearing speech in noise

Read this excellent paper (available through the reading List on Moodle) about energetic and informational masking:
Shinn-Cunningham, B. G. (2008). "Object-based auditory and visual attention," Trends Cog. Sci. p 12, 182-186.

Term ends 28 March 2013

Other links to material concerning relevant topics

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