Acoustic Environmental Learning Perceptual processing in reverberant environments is a complex subject that receives a great deal of empirical attention. The ability of listeners to “learn a room” is one aspect of auditory processing in rooms that is cited (e.g., Shinn-Cunningham & Kopèo, 2002), but the mechanisms that underlie the phenomenon are ... Article
Article  |   November 01, 2004
Acoustic Environmental Learning
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Christopher A. Brown
    Parmly Hearing Institute, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Articles
Article   |   November 01, 2004
Acoustic Environmental Learning
SIG 6 Perspectives on Hearing and Hearing Disorders: Research and Diagnostics, November 2004, Vol. 8, 2-4. doi:10.1044/hhd8.2.2
SIG 6 Perspectives on Hearing and Hearing Disorders: Research and Diagnostics, November 2004, Vol. 8, 2-4. doi:10.1044/hhd8.2.2
Perceptual processing in reverberant environments is a complex subject that receives a great deal of empirical attention. The ability of listeners to “learn a room” is one aspect of auditory processing in rooms that is cited (e.g., Shinn-Cunningham & Kopèo, 2002), but the mechanisms that underlie the phenomenon are not known. The term acoustic environmental learning (AEL) refers to a listener’s ability to adapt to the ambient background noise present in a novel acoustic environment, such that performance on auditory tasks performed in that environment improves. For example, listeners were significantly more accurate in judging the source distance of sounds when they were provided with the ambient background noise of the acoustic environment in which the sounds were recorded than when they were provided with no background noise (Brown & Yost, 2002). While AEL has received only limited attention to date, it has the potential to affect many areas of auditory perception and, perhaps most importantly, that of hearing impairment. Ongoing work has begun to outline the breadth of its effects. The purpose of this article is to provide a brief overview of the phenomenon and to outline both the potential implications of AEL on the perceptual abilities of listeners with hearing impairment and the challenges associated with studying this relationship.
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