HST.723J | Spring 2005 | Graduate

Neural Coding and Perception of Sound


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 2 hours / session

Who should take the course?

Anyone interested in auditory perception and the underlying neural mechanisms. The course is required for graduate students in the Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology Program. It is also appropriate for students in Brain and Cognitive Sciences or Electrical Engineering and Computer Science with an interest in hearing. Some familiarity with peripheral mechanisms of hearing (how the ear works) and biophysics of neurons is expected.

How does the course work?

Much of the learning is done by theme discussions of scientific papers. A block of lectures provides the background for reading the papers in each theme. Students are expected to read all the theme papers, then each paper is presented orally to the class by one student, followed by a discussion. At the end of a theme discussion, students write a report summarizing what they learned from the papers. The course also includes five laboratory exercises providing hands-on experience with neurophysiological, computational, and psychophysical techniques.

Prerequisites (one or more of the following)

HST.714: Acoustics of Speech and Hearing
HST.721: The Peripheral Auditory System
HST.541: Quantitative Physiology: Cells and Tissues
9.04: Neural Basis of Vision and Audition


Pickles, James O. An Introduction to the Physiology of Hearing. 2nd ed. London, UK: Academic Press, 1988. ISBN: 9780125547543.

Moore, Brian C. J. An Introduction to the Psychology of Hearing. 4th ed. London, UK: Academic Press, 1997. ISBN: 9780125056274.


Moore, Brian C. J. Hearing (Handbook of Perception and Cognition). 2nd ed. London, UK: Academic Press, 1995. ISBN: 9780125056267.

Yost, William A., Arthur N. Popper, and Richard R. Fay, eds. Human Psychophysics. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag, 1993. ISBN: 9780387978406.

Hartmann, William M. Signals, Sound, and Sensation . Woodbury, NY: AIP Press, 1998. ISBN: 9781563962837.

Peripheral Physiology

Dallos, Peter, Arthur N. Popper, and Richard R. Fay, eds. The Cochlea. 1st ed. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag, 1996. ISBN: 9780387944494.

Geisler, C. Daniel. From Sound to Synapse: Physiology of the Mammalian Ear. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN: 9780195100259.

Central Physiology

Ehret, Gunter, and Raymond Romand, eds. The Central Auditory System. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1996. ISBN: 9780195096842.

Popper, Arthur N., and Richard R. Fay, eds. The Mammalian Auditory Pathway: Neurophysiology. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag, 1992. ISBN: 0387978017.

Oertel, Donata, Richard R. Fay, and Arthur N. Popper, eds. Integrative Functions in the Mammalian Auditory Pathway. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag, 2002. ISBN: 9780387989037.

Mathematical Models

Hawkins, Harold L., Teresa A. McMullen, and Arthur N. Popper, Richard R. Fay, eds. Auditory Computation. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag, 1995. ISBN: 9780387978437.

Greenberg, Steven, M. Slaney, S. Greenberg, and Malcolm Slaney, eds. Computational Models of Auditory Function. Amsterdam, NL: IOS Press, 2001. ISBN: 9789051994575.

Course Structure

The course is organized by themes forming a coherent set of lectures, laboratory exercises and discussions of scientific papers.


  1. Masking and frequency selectivity
  2. Cellular mechanisms in the cochlear nucleus
  3. Binaural interactions
  4. Pitch and temporal coding
  5. Neural maps and plasticity
  6. Auditory scene analysis and object formation

Assignments and Grading

The assignments in this class consist of 4 written theme discussion reports, 3 written laboratory reports, approximately 3 oral paper presentations, and reading of 25-30 papers. In addition, there will be a final examination. Your overall grade will be based approximately on the following:

Final Exam 30%
Written Theme Discussion Reports 30%
Laboratory Reports 25%
Oral Paper Presentations and Class Participation 15%

Theme discussion reports are due one week after the last discussion session for the theme.

Laboratory reports are due one week after the lab session.

Late assignments will not be accepted.