Sound & Hearing: A Conceptual Introduction

Sound & Hearing: A Conceptual Introduction

Sound & Hearing: A Conceptual Introduction

Sound & Hearing: A Conceptual Introduction

Synopsis

The major aim of this book is to introduce the ways in which scientists approach and think about a phenomenon -- hearing -- that intersects three quite different disciplines: the physics of sound sources and the propagation of sound through air and other materials, the anatomy and physiology of the transformation of the physical sound into neural activity in the brain, and the psychology of the perception we call hearing. Physics, biology, and psychology each play a role in understanding how and what we hear.

The text evolved over the past decade in an attempt to convey something about scientific thinking, as evidenced in the domain of sounds and their perception, to students whose primary focus is not science. It does so using a minimum of mathematics (high school functions such as linear, logarithmic, sine, and power) without compromising scientific integrity. A significant enrichment is the availability of a compact disc (CD) containing over 20 examples of acoustic demonstrations referred to in the book. These demonstrations, which range from echo effects and filtered noise to categorical speech perception and total more than 45 minutes, are invaluable resources for making the text come alive.

Excerpt

This text has evolved during the past decade in an attempt to convey something about scientific thinking, as evidenced in the domain of sounds and their perception, to students whose primary focus is not science. It tries to do so using a minimum of mathematics without, it is hoped, seriously compromising scientific integrity.

Its origins were in the then new Harvard University Core Curriculum. All undergraduates were required to take two semesters of science, the choices being grouped into two categories unrevealingly labeled a and B. Roughly, a courses were to correspond to scientific basics, such as particle physics and microbiology, and B courses to the more complex sciences, such as geology and biology of systems. (In practice, this partitioning was less clear-cut, which probably accounts for the fact that word labels never came to replace a and B.) David M. Green and I from the Department of Psychology and Social Relations and R. Victor Jones from the Department of Applied Physics laid out a plan for a two-semester course to fulfill both requirements: Sound and Hearing followed by Light and Seeing. the physics of the course would meet the a requirement, whereas the physiology and psychology satisfied the B requirement. Green and Jones gave the entire sequence once. Because Green did not find doing it very rewarding, he relinquished it to Jones and me. We gave Sound and Hearing the next year, but not Light and Seeing. After that I gave Sound and Hearing alone several times. As a single course it was, to my surprise, classed as a rather than B.

Since coming to the University of California, Irvine, I have given it twice to, primarily, psychology majors. As many of these students do not intend . . .

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