Medical Physics

Human auditory neuroimaging of intensity and loudness

Stefan Uppenkamp, Markus Röhl (2014) Hearing Research, vol. 307, pp. 65-73

The physical intensity of a sound, usually expressed in dB on a logarithmic ratio scale, can easily be measured using technical equipment. Loudness is the perceptual correlate of sound intensity, and is usually determined by means of some sort of psychophysical scaling procedure. The interrelation of sound intensity and perceived loudness is still a matter of debate, and the physiological correlate of loudness perception in the human auditory pathway is not completely understood. Various studies indicate that the activation in human auditory cortex is more a representation of loudness sensation rather than of physical sound pressure level. This raises the questions (1), at what stage or stages in the ascending auditory pathway is the transformation of the physical stimulus into its perceptual correlate completed, and (2), to what extent other factors affecting individual loudness judgements might modulate the brain activation as registered by auditory neuroimaging. An overview is given about recent studies on the effects of sound intensity, duration, bandwidth and individual hearing status on the activation in the human auditory system, as measured by various approaches in auditory neuroimaging.

This article is part of a Special Issue entitled <Human Auditory Neuroimaging>.


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