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An Introduction to the Psychology of Hearing, Fifth Edition

An Introduction to the Psychology of Hearing, Fifth Edition

RATING: (3 of 5 ears)
AUTHOR: Brian C.J. Moore
PUBLISHER: Academic Press
ISBN: 0-12-505628-1
COST: US$59.95 (softcover)

REVIEWER: Charles Martinez, AuD, Associate Chief, Audiology & Speech Pathology Service, Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System, Los Angeles, California

SYNOPSIS: An Introduction to the Psychology of Hearing is the fifth edition of Dr. Moore's text. The book presents an evaluative summary of research investigating fundamental topics in psychoacoustics including threshold, temporal processing, frequency selectivity, masking, and pitch perception. It also covers the topics of space perception, auditory pattern and object perception and speech perception. In addition to summarizing experimental findings, Dr. Moore presents and evaluates the relative strengths and weakness of various theories that attempt to explain how the auditory system does what it does so well. The extensive bibliography in this updated edition contains more than 200 references that have been published since the previous 1997 edition. Each chapter provides readers with recommended further reading should they wish to pursue a topic in greater depth than is presented in the text.

REVIEW: This ten-chapter textbook summarizes current findings and thought regarding a number of topics in psychoacoustic research.

The first chapter presents the fundamental characteristics of sound and sound analysis. Also included is a description of the anatomy and function of the auditory system. The latter section has a heavy emphasis on the response of the basilar membrane to sound input. The second chapter provides a discussion of absolute threshold in normal hearing listeners and factors that affect its measurement. There is also a brief, basic description of the two main types of hearing loss.

The subsequent chapters each cover a primary topic in psychoacoustic research. Where there is crossover from one topic to another, the relevant sections of the other chapters are cited in the text.

Chapter 3 covers the topics of frequency selectivity, masking and critical bands. Included in this chapter is a discussion of auditory filters and their derivation from psychophysical tuning curves obtained through masking experiments. An explanation of signal detection theory is presented in the appendix to this chapter.

Chapter 4 discusses the perception of loudness. The methods of loudness scaling as well as factors in the signal that affect perceived loudness are presented. Auditory recruitment in the hearing impaired ear is discussed.

Chapter 5 considers the factors and limits of the auditory system's temporal processing capabilities. Emphasis is placed on the temporal resolution of steady state and modulated signals and duration discrimination abilities of the system.

Chapter 6 covers pitch perception. Along with the role that frequency components and patterns play in the perception of pitch, the author presents a model for the perception of pitch of complex tones. One section of this chapter is devoted to perception of pitch in music.

Chapter 7 discusses the auditory system's ability to localize sound sources in space. It covers the factors of binaural cues for localization in the horizontal plane as well as pinna and ear canal effects that aid in localization in the vertical plane. A discussion of binaural masking level differences is also included as part of the auditory system's use of binaural cues.

Chapter 8 covers auditory pattern and object perception. The two perceptual processes presented in this chapter are not directly related to the physical properties of the sound stimuli as are the processes discussed in the previous chapters. In this chapter, the cues that help the listener perform figure-ground separation, categorization of a complex mixture of sound into discreet sources, and the organization of sequences of sound into a single perceptual stream are presented and discussed.

Chapter 9 considers the speech signal. A brief primer on speech acoustics is provided. The multidimensional nature of the speech signal is emphasized and cited as one problem that makes this a difficult area for study. Various theories of speech perception are presented along with their strengths and weaknesses.

The final chapter presents practical applications of the psychoacoustics research results. In this chapter, topics such as hearing aid and cochlear implant design, Hi-Fi (author's term) sound reproduction and concert hall design are discussed.

CRITIQUE: This text is a good general reference covering the primary topics in psychoacoustic research with the main focus on the performance of the normal functioning auditory system. The intended audiences are advanced undergraduate and graduate students in psychology and speech and hearing sciences or others interested in the basic factors influencing the perception of sound. Although the book jacket synopsis states that the text does not assume prior knowledge about hearing, a reader without a basic background in hearing science and psychoacoustic experimental design would have difficulty with some of the information. This book provides some general information regarding the effects of hearing impairment on the performance of some psychophysical tasks, but does not contain a great deal of information that is directly applicable to the clinical environment.