The Auditory System

Lecturer: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bernhard U. Seeber, 
Assistant: Dipl.-Ing. Matthieu Kuntz
Turnus: Winter semester only
Target group:

Core module in area Bio- and Neuroengineering in Master EI,

Elective in Master EI

Schedule: 2/2/0 (Lecture/Exercise course/Practical course)
Language: Englisch
Exam Oral. Sign up slots for the individual oral exam will be posted on Moodle.
Candidates for repeat exams in the summer semester are asked to contact us well in advance to arrange an individual exam time.
Time & Place:

Lecture: Tuesday, 09:45 - 11:15, N3815

Exercise course: Tuesday, 11:30 - 13:00, N3815


Lecture starts on 17.10.2023;

Excercise course from 24.10.2023, lecture held on 17.10.2023


On the example of the auditory system, the course provides a thorough understanding of human perceptual mechanisms and the principles of modeling physiological and perceptual processes to students interested in bio- and neuroengineering. Based on the understanding of mechanisms and models, students learn to derive solutions for engineering applications for audio (e.g. mp3, hearables) and hearing devices (hearing aids and cochlear implants).
The course covers the following topics:

  • Physiology of the auditory system: Outer and middle ear, cochlea, auditory nerve, brainstem
  • Mechanisms and models of the outer and middle ear; head-related transfer functions
  • The cochlea: physiology and perception, auditory filter models (DRNL, Meddis inner hair cell)
  • Auditory/psychoacoustic masking: simultaneous and forward masking
  • Just noticeable differences in intensity and binaural cues
  • Loudness: spectral loudness models
  • Binaural hearing: binaural cues, directional hearing, physiology and models, spatial unmasking, the precedence effect
  • Hearing impairment: Kinds of hearing impairment, frequency selectivity and auditory filters, masking, loudness and recruitment, temporal and spectral processing, pitch perception, modeling hearing impairment
  • Speech understanding: cues, models (Speech Intelligibility Index), binaural speech understanding, effect of noise and reverberation on speech understanding
  • Auditory scene analysis
  • Audio applications: Virtual acoustics, mp3
  • Hearing aids: function and algorithms
  • Cochlear implants: function, algorithms, temporal and spectral resolution, modeling the neural response, speech understanding.

Excercise course: Methods for listening tests and their evaluation; basic statistics for the evaluation of experiments; ethical considerations in clinical research with human participants; speech tests in audiometry; models of the auditory system with hands-on programming in Matlab (monaural, binaural); audio demonstrations.

Lecture videos on YouTube:

Exercise course

  • Methods for listening tests and their evaluation
  • Basic statistics for the evaluation of experiments
  • Ethical considerations in clinical research with human participants
  • Speech tests in audiometry
  • Models of the auditory system with hands-on programming in Matlab (monaural, binaural)
  • Audio demonstrations.


Oral exams will take place. Examination dates will be announced. In addition, each student must register and sign up individually at the examination office (online portal).


J. Blauert Spatial Hearing. MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1996.
H. Fastl , E. Zwicker Psychoacoustics - Facts and Models. Springer-Verlag, 3rd Edition, 2007.
D.M. Green, J.A. Swets Signal Detection Theory and Psychophysics. Peninsula Publishing, Los Altos Hills, Calif., USA, 1988.
N.A. Macmillan, C.D. Creelman Detection Theory: A User's Guide. Psychology Press, 2nd Edition, New York, London, 2009.
B.C.J. Moore An Introduction to the Psychology of Hearing. Emerald Group Publishing, 6th Edition, London, 2012.
B.C.J. Moore Cochlear Hearing Loss: Physiological, Psychological and Technical Issues: John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester, UK, 2007.
E. Terhardt Akustische Kommunikation. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, 1998.
J.O. Pickles An Introduction to the Physiology of Hearing, Emerald publishing, Bingley, UK, 2008.