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In One Ear Activity
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Perception 4/e Cover Image
Perception, 4/e
Robert Sekuler, Brandeis University
Randolph Blake, Vanderbilt University

Hearing and Listening

audibility function (AF)  In hearing, a graph portraying threshold intensity as a function of the frequency of the test tone.
auditory image  With a complex sound field arising from several different auditory events, the information associated with just one of those events.
bandpass noise  Noise containing a restricted, contiguous band of frequencies.
binaural unmasking  A reduction in the ability of masking noise heard with both ears to mask another sound heard by one ear only. See masking.
bone conduction  The transmission of sound wave vibrations through the bones of the skull to the cochlea. A procedure for testing the integrity of the cochlea in the presence of middle-ear damage.
broadband noise  Noise whose energy covers a wide range of frequencies.
center frequency  The frequency lying at the center of the range of frequencies contained in bandpass noise.
cocktail party effect  The ability to attend selectively to the speech of one person in the midst of many other speakers.
conduction loss  A form of hearing loss attributable to a disorder in the outer or middle ear; it typically involves an overall loss in sensitivity at all sound frequencies. See sensory/neural loss.
cone of confusion  The set of points in space that potentially could have given rise to any one interaural time difference or interaural intensity difference.
critical band  The restricted range of frequencies that mask a given test frequency. The critical band reflects the frequency tuning of the neurons that detect the test frequency.
discrimination threshold  The minimum physical difference, usually an intensity difference, that allows two objects to be distinguished from each other.
duplex theory  In hearing, the idea that the interaural time difference (ITD) is used to localize low-frequency sounds and the interaural intensity difference (IID) is used to localize high-frequency sounds.
equal loudness contours  A set of curves describing the sound intensities at which different frequencies all sound equal in loudness. See loudness matching.
fundamental frequency  The lowest frequency among the set of frequencies associated with a complex sound.
harmonics  Acoustic frequencies that are multiples of one another, often occurring in speech and music. Harmonic tones tend to be perceptually grouped in hearing.
interaural intensity difference (IID)  The difference in the intensity of sound arriving at the two ears; one of the sources of information for sound localization. See interaural time difference.
interaural time difference (ITD)  The difference in the time of arrival of a sound wave at the two ears; one of the sources of information for sound localization. See interaural intensity difference.
loudness  The subjective experience associated with sound intensity.
loudness matching  A psychophysical procedure in which a listener adjusts the intensity of one tone until it sounds as loud as another tone. See equal loudness contours.
magnitude estimation  A psychophysical procedure in which people assign numbers to stimuli in proportion to the perceived intensity of those stimuli.
masking  A reduction in one stimulus’s visibility or loudness as a result of the juxtaposition of another, stronger stimulus. See binaural unmasking.
melody contour  The rise and fall of successive notes in a musical passage.
missing fundamental  With a complex series of harmonic tones, the fundamental tone of the series may continue to be heard despite the fact that it has been physically removed.
neurogram  A graph depicting variations over time in the neural activity within a large number of frequency-selective neurons in response to a complex sound.
otosclerosis  A disorder of the middle ear involving immobilization of the stirrup.
perfect pitch  The comparatively rare ability to identify any musical note played or to reproduce vocally any named note. See relative pitch.
phoneme  A sound difference that affects the meaning of an utterance; widely regarded as the fundamental unit of speech.
phonagnosia  Inability to identify speakers by means of their voices.
pitch  The subjective counterpart to sound frequency.
presbycusis  In hearing, an age-related gradual loss of sensitivity to high-frequency tones.
profile analysis  The process by which the relative activity of various neurons registers some property of a stimulus.
relative pitch  The comparatively common ability to identify a tonal interval without necessarily knowing the particular tones that make up that interval. See perfect pitch.
sensory/neural loss  A form of hearing loss originating within the inner ear or the auditory pathways; may involve selective loss of sensitivity to a limited range of frequencies. See conduction loss.
sound localization  Ability to identify the position of some sound stimulus.
spectrogram  A graph depicting the frequency composition of a sound as a function of time.
temporary threshold shift  A short-lived decrease in hearing sensitivity caused by exposure to noise.
threshold intensity  The minimum sound intensity necessary to elicit a neural response from an auditory neuron.
timbre  The quality of sound that distinguishes different musical instruments. See harmonics.
tinnitus  An annoying, persistent ringing in the ears.