Sound, the Auditory System, and Pitch Perception

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KTH ROYAL INSTITUTE
OF TECHNOLOGY
DT2350 Human Perception for Information Technology
Sound, the Auditory System,
and Pitch Perception
Roberto Bresin
Copyright (c) 2015 Roberto Bresin
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA.
Outlook
• The nature of sound
• How we experience sounds
• Physiology behind the perception of pitch
• Hearing loss
• How different parts of the brain respond to sound
• Sound localization
• Sound design: getting attention with sound
Literature
Goldstein, E. (2009/2014). Sensation and Perception.
Chapter 11 (2009 edition): Sound, the Auditory System, and Pitch
Perception
Chapter 11 (2014 edition): Hearing
Weinschenk, S.M. (2011). 100 Things Every Designer
Needs to Know About People.
Chapters #48: Loud noises startle and get attention
Test
Which sense would you choose to
keep if you had to pick between
hearing and vision?
Why? (discuss between peers in 3 minutes)
What is sound?
Physical vs perceptual definition
Sound wave speed: 340 m/s (air), 1500 m/s (water), 5120 m/s (iron)
Air pressure changes
Frequency [Hz]
Number of times/second
that the pressure changes repeat.
Humans can perceive frequencies in
the range from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz.
Decibel [dB]
dB = 20 x log (p/po)
p = stimulus sound pressure
po = standard sound pressure
(20 micropascals = hearing threshold)
Sound level [dB]
Higher amplitude (physical)  Higher sound level (perceptual)
Frequency [Hz]
Complex wave forms / Frequency Spectra
Loudness
Loudness was judged relative to
a standard of a 1000 Hz tone at
40 dB, which was assigned a
value of 1.
Thus, a tone that sounds 10
times louder than this standard
would be judged to have a
loudness of 10.
Pitch
Pitch, the perceptual quality we describe as “high” or “low” is
defined as the attribute of auditory sensation in terms of which
sounds may be ordered on a musical scale.
(Bendor & Wang, 2005)
Audibility curve and auditory response area
Equal loudness curves
unit (phons)
Phon = the level in dB of a 1kHz
tone judged to be of the same
loudness as the test stimulus
F0 = 196 Hz
Timbre
The ear
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCyz8-eAs1I&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=0jyxhozq89g&feature=fvwp
The cochlea
•
The cochlea is a spiral tapered
tube, 2¾ turn.
•
The cochlea is divided into three
parts along its length.
•
Helicotrema is the part of the
cochlear labyrinth where the
scala tympani and the scala
vestibuli meet.
•
The basilar membrane is a vital
part of the hearing process.
•
As the cochlea becomes
narrower, basilar membrane
becomes wider. 0.1 mm at the
oval window, 0.5 mm at
helicotrema.
Basilar membrane
Inner and outer hairs cells
Frequencies
Sound frequency  timing of firing
Basilar membrane: Vibration
Tuning curves (cat auditory nerve fibers)
Masking
Low frequencies mask higher frequencies
more than high frequencies mask lower
frequencies
 The human auditory system is not sensitive
to a detailed spectral structure, e.g. mp3.
Hearing loss
Conductive
•
Deteriorated impedance conversion between the eardrum and
the oval window
• Abnormalities at the eardrum, wax in the ear canal, injuries to the
ossicles, inflammation in the middle ear
Sometimes possible to recover with surgery
Sensorineural
•
•
Damage to the inner and outer hair cells
Acoustic trauma, drugs, infection, congenital
Usually permanent
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Hearing loss simulations
Severe
Moderate
Normal
Hearing loss (Sweden)
Safe sound level
Ishockey match
Auditory pathways
What and where streams
Areas
with
brain
damage
Auditory cortex is shaped by experience 1/2
Auditory cortex is shaped by experience 2/2
Cochlear implant (CI)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Microphone
Processor
Transmitter
Receiver
Electrodes
Sound localization – Horizontal plane
Time differences
Level differences
Time differences as function of angle
Level differences as function of angle
2 kHz tone
Speech
Sound localization – Vertical plane
Loud noises startle and get attention
Weinschenk, S.M. (2011). 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People. Chapter #48
From Deatherage (1972):
Loud noises startle and get attention
Weinschenk, S.M. (2011). 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People. Chapter #48
People habituate to stimuli
Examples: computer fan, church bells, clock
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