Medical Physics

Psychoacoustics and auditory modelling

Psychoacoustics assesses the perception of acoustic events and sounds by human listeners. Since the late 18th century, researchers have tried to systematically understand the physical properties of acoustic stimuli that give rise to well known attributes of sounds as, e.g., loudness, and pitch, as well as to the ability to localize sounds in space.

In psychophysics, the human listener serves as the “measurement device” while, depending on the task, the listener can also be considered as the “device under test”. In the first case, listeners describe perceptual attributes of a sound, and assess, e.g., audibility of a specific sound in the background of other sounds, or judge differences between two consecutive sounds. In the second case, the physical properties of sounds and the corresponding perception are used to investigate the properties of the auditory system. The results have found their way into models of auditory signal processing and perception. Models of auditory perception can predict loudness or tonality of sounds and play an important role in modern, perceptually motivated, bit-rate reduction schemes for digital audio, like mp3. Auditory models also form the basis for a better understanding of how the auditory system functions and can help to improve the signal processing in technical applications such as hearing aids and cochlear implants.

Our main emphasis is on the areas:

  • Monaural and binaural perception and signal processing in the human auditory system
  • Psychoacoustic measurements and measurement tools
  • Phenomenological models of auditory signal processing
  • Applications of auditory signal processing principles in hearing instruments and systems

Our work is supported by different public sector funding bodies, mainly the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

Keywords

Psychoacoustics, auditory, perception, model, monaural, binaural, loudness, pitch, amplitude modulation, adaptation, envelope, fine structure, sound, hearing impairment