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The University of Southampton

AUDI6009 Physiology and Psychology of Hearing

Module Overview

The sense of hearing is essential for human communication. In this module we investigate the extraordinary capabilities and limitations of the human sense of hearing. Starting with the outer, middle and inner ear, we will investigate the anatomical and physiological functions of the whole auditory pathway up to the primary auditory cortex. At each stage we will discuss potential problems that can lead to hearing loss. We will learn about the psychophysical abilities of normally hearing people and how these capabilities deteriorate in the hearing impaired. We will discuss how signal processing in hearing aids can overcome some, but not all of these limitations. The module is essential for all students learning about audiology, hearing sciences and communication sciences. It is also suitable for engineering students with an interest in acoustics, effects of noise on people, audio or biomedical signal processing as well as for students seeking an understanding of sound perception and speech communication.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Disciplinary Specific Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Explain the basic acoustical, engineering, biological and psychological principles related to hearing science.
  • Explain the structure and function of the principal components of the normal human auditory system
  • Explain the physiological basis as well as the perceptual consequences of hearing loss.
  • Explain and critically appraise methods used to investigate auditory perception.
  • Critically appreciate scientific literature on hearing sciences.
  • Demonstrate mastery of effective self-directed learning and scientific communication


• To introduce basic acoustics required to understand the module. • To describe the anatomy and physiology of the outer, middle and inner ear • To understand the function of the outer, middle and inner ear based on established and emerging theory. To understand how nonlinear feedback processes in the inner hear form the basis of normal perception • To explain the consequences of physiological dysfunction to features of hearing loss. • To introduce you to the domains that define the physical characteristics of sound (intensity, frequency, time, direction) and the corresponding perceptual domains (loudness, pitch, temporal characteristic, localisation/lateralisation). To understand how hearing changes in aging individuals and the population. • To describe the psychophysical methods used to measure the various auditory capabilities including speech tests. • To describe the main theories related to detection and discrimination of sounds and develop an understanding of signal detection theory. To understand the theory of auditory filters and how they form the basis of describing effects of hearing loss by temporal and frequency distortions • To describe the consequences of the most common forms of hearing disorder in terms of auditory capabilities and speech recognition performance to enable you to evaluate the consequences for individual cases.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Weekly lectures and tutorials, and fortnightly mini-assignments which will form discussion during tutorials and on which you will receive feedback during tutorials.

Preparation for scheduled sessions10
Completion of assessment task50
Wider reading or practice60
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

References. A list of references will be supplied at the beginning of the module.





MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment  () 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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