AUDL 4007   January 2010

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. Also developed will be the role of central auditory processing.
Course Structure: The course is run in the second term only, on Thursday afternoons, starting on 14 January 2009. There is no meeting on 18 February due to it being reading week, nor on 28 January. The course comprises a mixture of lectures, demonstrations, laboratory sessions and tutorials.

Venue and scheduling: All sessions start at 14:00 in Chandler House. The lectures will usually be in Room B01, but in G10 on the 18th and 25th of March. We will typically move to B07 (the teaching laboratory) after the lecture.

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
  • Gelfand, S. (2004) Hearing: An Introduction to Psychological and Physiological Acoustics, Fourth Edition, Revised and Expanded. A nearly complete resource for anatomy, phsyiology and psychoacoustics. Especially good on the middle ear.
  • Plomp, R. (2002) The Intelligent Ear, Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah New Jersey. A very accessible account of hearing.
  • Moore, B.C.J. (1997). An Introduction to the Psychology of Hearing, 4th ed., Academic Press. A very complete guide to the literature, but at an advanced level.
  • Yost, W.A. (2007) Fundamentals of Hearing: An Introduction, 5th ed., Academic Press. A more elementary exposition. Particularly good on the anatomy & physiology.

Assessment for the BSc
  • 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.
  • A 2-hour written paper (70%)
You must pass the final exam to pass the course.

Assessment for the MSc
  • 1 piece of coursework (max 1000 words), analysing a set of results from a very small-scale psychoacoustic study, focused on methodological issues.
  • A written paper

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.

The exam format for the MSc students will be announced later.

Course work BSc

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 might 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. 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.

Your article should introduce the basic topic and discuss the motivation of the author(s) in doing the study. 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, or this one, from Nature News. Again, use the library page to access the ejournal and locate the full article by date.

You will submit your work both in hard copy and by email. Articles should be 1000 words or less, with the following absolutely crucial deadlines.
  • 21 January: Choose a paper and email it to for approval by 28 January
  • 4 February: Hand in essay 1
  • 11 February: Essay 1 returned with comments
  • 25 February: Hand in final version of essay 1 to be marked
  • 11 March: Choose and have approved a second paper (in a different topic area) by email to
  • 18 March: Bring two hard copies (double-spaced) of essay 2 to the lab session, where fellow students will read them and give you feedback
  • 25 March: Hand in final version of essay 2 to be marked

A pdf of these deadlines can be found here.

Course work MSc

Your piece of course work is focused on the nature of adaptive psychoacoustic tasks, and the interpretation of them. Full details are given here.You will submit your work both in hard copy and by email, with a copy of all your relevant files. The course work is due 25 March 2010.

Week by Week

Unless otherwise indicated, lectures will be given by Prof Stuart Rosen

Week 1: 14 January 2010: Introduction to the course, to psychophysical methods and signal detection theory

Chapters 1-3 in Plack summarise the basic aspects of acoustics, signals & systems you need to be familiar with.

Week 2: 21 January 2010: A review of peripheral auditory physiology

Read Ch 4 in Plack. More extensive, but similar material, can be found in Chaps 6-9 of Yost.

Week 3: 28 January 2010: No meeting due to Master Class

Week 4: 4 February 2010: Frequency selectivity / Intensity and loudness

Read Ch 5 & 6 in Plack.

Week 5: 11 February 2010: Pitch perception (Faulkner)

Read Ch 7 in Plack.

Reading Week: 18 February 2010

Week 6: 26 February 2010: Temporal resolution

Read Ch 8 in Plack.

Week 7: 4 March 2010: No meeting due to Master Class about Cochlear Implants

Week 8: 11 March 2010: Auditory Scene Analysis

Read Ch 10 in Plack, and this

Week 9: 18 March 2010: Psychoacoustics of hearing impairment

Read this and this and this.

Week 10: 25 March 2010: Binaural hearing (Prof D McAlpine)

Read Ch 9 in Plack.

Term ends 26 March 2010

Other links to material concerning relevant topics

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