John G. Neuhoff




Editorial Reviews


"Ecological Psychoacoustics" outlines recent advances in dynamic, cognitive, and ecological investigations of auditory perception and ties this work to findings in more traditional areas of psychoacoustics. The book illuminates some of the converging evidence that is beginning to emerge from these traditionally divergent fields, providing a scientifically rigorous, "real world" perspective on auditory perception, cognition, and action. In a natural listening environment almost all sounds are dynamic, complex, and heard concurrently with other sounds. Yet, historically, traditional psychoacoustics has examined the perception of static, impoverished stimuli presented in isolation. "Ecological Psychoacoustics" examines recent work that challenges some of the traditional ideas about auditory perception that were established with these impoverished stimuli and provides a focused look at the perceptual processes that are more likely to occur in natural settings.


"If a robot were equipped with all the human capacities that we have come to understand through traditional auditory psychophysics, and set loose in a natural environment to learn something about it through the sounds that were made both by the robot and its environment, it would be able to function mainly as a rather imprecise tape recorder, except that it could detect the pitch, loudness, and location of isolated tones and noise bursts (if it happened to come upon any). As soon as it encountered more than one sound at a time, or had to interpret patterns of sound extending over time, or was required to coordinate its sound-based knowledge with that provided by its other senses, it would be lost. Neuhoff's groundbreaking book represents the work of innovative researchers who are trying to achieve a scientific understanding of the perceptual and cognitive processes that use sound to achieve an understanding of the environment. We have a long way to go before we have enough knowledge to equip a robot with a human's auditory skills, but the work reported in this volume represents an important beginning."

-Al Bregman, Emeritus Professor, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

"Ecological psychoacoustics pairs two fields of the study of auditory perception (ecological perception and psychoacoustics) that have rarely been paired. In fact, many in each field might argue that the pairing is a contradiction. However, the chapters in Ecological Psychoacoustics suggest many reasons why combining the rigor of psychoacoustics with the relevance of ecological perception could improve significantly the understanding of auditory perception in the world of real sound sources. Real-world sounds are complex, but they also are physically constrained. Psychoacoustics has produced a wealth of knowledge about sensory processing of simple sounds, especially by the auditory periphery. It is becoming clear that understanding the complex auditory scene of real-world sounds will require substantial new information about how the central auditory nervous system processes the complex sounds from real-world sources. Ecological Psychoacoustics provides many examples of how understanding and using information about the constraints of real-world sound sources may aid in discovering how the nervous system parses an auditory scene. Thus, Ecological Psychoacoustics will help define a new field of perception."

—William A. Yost, Associate Vice President for Research and Dean of The Graduate School, Loyola University Chicago, U.S.A.

"The articles in this book represent an important step in creating a coherent theory about perceiving naturally occurring auditory events and their relationship to things in the world. Even though each chapter has a traditional title, the content of each one is non-traditional, and each conveys the advantages and excitement of matching the acoustic characteristics of real world sounds to the physiological properties of the auditory system and to complex perceptual phenomena. All of the articles emphasize that listening occurs in a context that includes information from other senses, requires focused attending, and involves hypothesis testing about probable causes. This book will move auditory theory squarely into the auditory world."

-Stephen Handel, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, U.S.A.

"This book helps to set basic hearing research into a more cognitive theoretical context while maintaining the rigorous standards for experimental evidence so well developed by traditional psychoacoustics. Ecological Psychoacoustics will have a beneficial effect on the field, encouraging research workers to take a more cognitive and ecological perspective when choosing experimental questions."

-Chris Darwin, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK

Ecological Psychoacoustics

Edited by John G. Neuhoff


Ch. 1 Ecological psychoacoustics: Introduction and history John G. Neuhoff
Ch. 2 Auditory perceptual organization inside and outside the laboratory Rhodri Cusack
Robert P. Carlyon
Ch. 3 Attention and timing Mari Riess Jones
Ch. 4 Auditory Motion and Localization John G. Neuhoff
Ch. 5 From Gibson's fire to Gestalts: A bridge-building theory of perceptual objecthood
Dave VanValkenburg
Michael Kubovy
Ch. 6 Ecological psychoacoustics and auditory displays: Hearing, grouping, and meaning making
Bruce N. Walker
Gregory Kramer
Ch. 7 Environmental acoustics: Psychological assessment of noise
Seiichiro Namba
Sonoko Kuwano
Ch. 8 Ecological developmental psychoacoustics
Lynne A. Werner
Lori J. Leibold
Ch. 9 Perceiving articulatory events: Lessons for an ecological psychoacoustics Lawrence D. Rosenblum
Ch. 10 Interacting perceptual dimensions John G. Neuhoff
Ch. 11 Pitch and pitch structures Mark A. Schmuckler
Ch. 12 Loudness Robert S. Schlauch