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

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8The Approach and Methodology of Psychoacoustics

Auditory psychophysics, more often called psychoacoustics, is important in understanding the systemic and information processing properties of auditory functions (see Section 1.3). It is, in principle, independent of physiological research and knowledge, but it is always most fortunate if physiological and psychoacoustic facts and models support each other. As will become obvious below, many (but not all) psychoacoustic phenomena find a correlate in the physiology of hearing. Modern psychoacoustics, based on systematic experimentation, has been carried out for roughly a century. Its development has been greatly influenced by engineering sciences, especially by the challenges of communication technology.

Psychoacoustics has the advantage that experimentation in its basic form is easy and non-invasive, and thus the subject under study is not in danger of physical injury. However, this does not mean that making such behavioural experiments or interpreting their results is easy. Another advantage of the psychoacoustic approach is that higher level functions of the auditory system can be studied where physiological knowledge is missing or too weak to support our understanding.

Studies on auditory sensation and perception can be compared to measurements of a very complex physical system that is inherently non-linear, time-varying with both short-term and long-term effects, and it also shows minor or major variation due to innumerable ...

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