I am writing this textbook after teaching psychological acoustics (commonly referred to as psychoacoustics) to clinical audiology students for over 15 years. Each year I have taught this course I have struggled to find a text appropriate for these students. No doubt, there are excellent texts available on the topic of psychoacoustics. However, all modern books on the topic cover only normal auditory perception and contain little to no review of perception by listeners with hearing loss. Yet, I argue that these students, and those studying auditory perception more generally, should have some exposure to the perceptual deficits imposed by sensorineural hearing loss. Not only will having this information help clinical audiologists to better care for their patients, but studies evaluating perception in listeners with sensorineural hearing loss also have contributed to our understanding of the mechanisms responsible for normal auditory perception. Consequently, this textbook provides a broad overview of auditory perception in normal-hearing listeners, and each chapter includes information on the effects that sensorineural hearing loss has on perceptual abilities.
When possible, this book will provide mechanistic explanations for the psychoacoustical findings in terms of physiology. We will ask with a goal toward understanding what the auditory system is able to perceive and how the auditory system achieves perception. The main focus of this text is healthy auditory perception. However, as we work toward this goal, we will also evaluate the perceptual abilities of people with sensorineural hearing loss. The focus here is on listeners with sensorineural hearing loss of presumed cochlear origin, and the term sensorineural hearing loss will be used throughout the text as such.