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Communication Acoustics: An Introduction to Speech, Audio and Psychoacoustics by Matti Karjalainen, Ville Pulkki

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7 Physiology and Anatomy of Hearing

The purpose of hearing is to capture acoustic vibrations arriving at the ear and analyse the content of the signal to deliver information about the acoustic surroundings to the higher levels in the brain. The auditory system is the sensory system for the sense of hearing. According to current knowledge, the auditory system divides broadband ear-canal signals into frequency bands, and then conducts a sophisticated analysis on the bands in parallel and in sequence. The human auditory system largely resembles the hearing system in other mammals, but humans have one property that has developed much farther: the ability to analyse and recognize spoken language. As a consequence, the sensitivity to and resolution of some speech- and voice-related features of sound are very good. Thus, a major part of this book is devoted to discussing the different roles of hearing and the auditory perception in typical human communication.

The functional properties, or the physiology of hearing, are interesting in the context of understanding communication and engineering applications, especially from a basic research point of view. This topic includes the acoustic-to-mechanic and then to neural conversion occurring in the auditory periphery and the neural functions of the auditory pathway. From a communication point of view, however, a very detailed understanding of the physiology of hearing is not necessary. The anatomical structure of hearing is also somewhat ...

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