Psychoacoustics

Participant during a psychoacoustics test at the Brainlab
Participant during a psychoacoustics test at the Brainlab

Psychoacoustics is an interdisciplinary field between physical acoustics and psychology concerned with how humans perceive and interpret sound. This distinction between perception and interpretation of sound is relevant in landscape studies. Sound perception is cognitively neutral. In contrast, auditory interpretation reflects superiority, fit, and the listener’s level of appreciation. The former depends on the physiological mechanism of hearing by which many perceptual properties of sound (e.g. loudness, duration, location) are extracted from the spectral contents, temporal patterns, and spatial distribution of acoustic signals reaching the ears. In contrast, sound interpretation relies on the higher-level functions of the auditory system. These are influenced by several conscious and unconscious factors, such as attitudes, beliefs, judgments, habits and familiarity with sounds. The perception vs. interpretation dichotomy raises critical issues to be considered in research methodology. It is possible to explore the psychoacoustics of our rock art landscapes by gathering information from the external world (i.e. acoustical physical measurements) and from the listeners themselves (i.e. by means of live psychoacoustic tests). In the Artsoundscapes project we propose to pioneer in the field of archaeoacoustics by applying both methods. In carrying out the psychoacoustic tests, the Artsoundscapes PI will be assisted by Prof. Carles Escera, a renowned cognitive auditory neuroscientist with considerable experience in carrying out auditory research, including psychoacoustic methodologies