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Fundamentals of Hearing: An Introduction, 5th Edition

Fundamentals of Hearing: An Introduction, 5th Edition

RATING: (5 of 5 ears)
AUTHOR: William A. Yost
PUBLISHER: Academic Press, Elsevier, Inc.
ISBN: 978-0-12-370473-3 (hardcover)
COST: $51.95

REVIEWER: Jerry L. Northern, PhD, Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado School of Medicine Department of Otolaryngology (Audiology), Denver, CO

SYNOPSIS: This highly useful text and reference source is now available in a fifth edition, written six years following publication of the fourth edition. The updates and changes within the book are based on comments and suggestions provided by known users of the fourth edition. The author has also prepared several PowerPoint presentations available on a Web site provided by the publisher that complement the materials in the fifth edition. The text is written at a level that requires readers (audiologists, psychologists, otologists, and hearing scientists) to be somewhat versed in mathematics and basic science. The focus of the material describes and explains the processes of human audition in normal hearing. This text should be required reading for audiology graduate students studying psychoacoustics and readily available as a valuable reference for all professionals involved in the study of hearing.

REVIEW: The basic layout of the fifth edition is unchanged from the previous editions and is divided into four major sections: (1) “The Auditory Stimulus: Sound,” (2) “Peripheral Auditory Anatomy and Physiology,” (3) “Auditory Sensation,” (4) “Auditory Perception, the Central Nervous System, and Auditory Disorders.” The book contains 16 chapters, six appendixes, a subject index, plus a glossary, references, and invaluable additional information sections. In an interesting format, the author has not confounded the main section of each chapter with references. Rather, a summary is presented at the end of each chapter followed by a supplement that contains important citations and references to the material presented in the chapter.

“The Auditory Stimulus: Sound”: This section includes four chapters: “Sinusoids, The Basic Sound,” “Sound Transmission and Sound Propagation,” “Complex Sounds,” and “Sound Analysis.” The reader should be aware that although this is a very thorough discussion of sound, the text includes elements of physics and mathematics.

“Peripheral Auditory Anatomy and Physiology”: The second section of the book includes four chapters: “The Outer and Middle Ears,” “Structure of the Inner Ear and Its Mechanical Response,” “Peripheral Auditory Nervous System and Hair Cells,” “The Neural Response and the Auditory Code.” The excellent discussions in these chapters are accompanied by an outstanding and ample array of tables, figures, illustrations, and light microscopy photographs to elucidate information presented in the text.

“Auditory Sensation”: This section includes four chapters: “Auditory Sensitivity,” “Masking,”; “Sound Localization and Binaural Hearing,”; and “Loudness and Pitch.” These chapters are presented in a psychoacoustics format rather than the traditional format seen in clinical audiology textbooks. The chapter on masking, for example, does not deal with masking for hearing testing but focuses on the influence of external sounds on auditory sensation, critical band theory, temporal masking, and masking used to measure nonlinear compression.

“Auditory Perception, the Central Nervous System, and Auditory Disorders”: This section includes three chapters: “Auditory Perception,”; “The Central Auditory Nervous System,”; “The Abnormal Auditory System.” This section is beautifully presented with numerous illustrations, tables, figures, and microphotographs of the structures of the auditory central nervous system. The material focuses on psychoacoustic aspects of neural auditory coding and offers clear explanations of the current state of our understanding of the encoding of sound parameters, including frequency, intensity, and temporal aspects, in the peripheral and central auditory systems. The discussion of hearing in auditory disorders is ample for psychology-type students but not sufficient in depth for audiology students.

Appendixes: The last 58 pages of the text contain six appendixes that formulate an outstanding presentation of various hard-to-find facts and information pieces not available in any easy-to-access single source. Here the reader will find higher mathematical considerations related to sounds including sinusoids, trigonometry and vectors, logarithmic discussion of decibels, and Fourier analysis. The appendixes also contain psychophysical procedures, basic neural anatomy and physiology, presentation of techniques used in the study of hearing such as signal processing, microscopy, neural stains and markers, imaging, molecular cell biology, and genetics—all described in understandable terms. The inclusion of titles and brief descriptions of the American National Standards makes for a useful reference. An especially interesting appendix is devoted to the anatomical and physiological measurements of the human auditory system.

CRITIQUE: This textbook is authored by a noted authority in psychoacoustics and a highly experienced lecturer/instructor and researcher. The longevity and success of this textbook is reflected in the fifth edition and speaks well for its value to professionals dealing with the human auditory system. It covers difficult and complex topics in clear and concise language, supplemented throughout with illustrations and figures to visually complement the text. The substantial information presented in the appendixes adds to the uniqueness of this textbook. Audiology graduate programs would do well to develop their psychoacoustic courses with this challenging text as a basis for the curriculum. All professionals who deal with hearing from any vantage point would benefit from having access to this textbook as a ready reference source.