About this Research Topic
Loudness may be defined as the subjective intensity of a sound. It is the sensation that allows judgment of whether a sound is strong or soft. Sounds can be characterized by several perceptual features and among them, loudness plays an important role. Loudness is very important for sound quality. Noise annoyance is mainly influenced by loudness, because, in most situations, the louder the sound, the more annoying it is. It is very important to control loudness for users of hearing aids and cochlear implants, for whom the loudness of sounds must be appropriate and the temporal fluctuations in loudness (particularly for speech) must be well reproduced. Understanding how the perception of loudness is formed in the auditory system and how it is coded is therefore of great importance.
Loudness has been mainly described for stationary sounds, and we know quite well how it varies with level, frequency, bandwidth, and duration. More recently, research has been conducted on the loudness of non-stationary sounds, the loudness of sounds that differ at the two ears, and the effect of context on loudness. This research has made it possible to develop computational models of loudness.
Sound intensity is probably partly coded by the rate of neural discharges in the auditory nerve, but it is not clear where and how in the auditory pathway loudness is coded. Only recently have researchers started to investigate the coding of loudness across the whole auditory pathway.
The aim of this Research Topic is to better understand the mechanisms underlying the formation of the percept of loudness by bringing together work on psychoacoustics and neuroscience, and the integration of the two. The topics covered include: the temporal integration of loudness, across-frequency integration of loudness, binaural loudness, loudness of multiple sources, masked loudness, cognitive influences on loudness, and multimodal interactions. All contributions focusing on psychoacoustics, physiology, and imaging, using both humans and animals, and articles dealing with clinical aspects or applications to industrial problems are welcome for this article collection.
Keywords: loudness, hearing, psychoacoustics, auditory neuroscience, auditory perception
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