Hearing Science Fundamentals

Second Edition

Norman J. Lass, Jeremy J. Donai

Details: 370 pages, 2-Color, Softcover, 7" x 10"

ISBN13: 978-1-63550-328-9

© 2023 | Available

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Hearing Science Fundamentals, Second Edition
maintains the straightforward style of the previous edition, introducing the basic concepts in hearing science in an easy-to-understand format. With a wide variety of student-friendly features and instructor resources, this comprehensive textbook facilitates the absorption of technical material by both undergraduate and graduate students. The text is divided into four clear sections to cover everything from the physics of sound to the anatomy and physiology of the auditory pathway and beyond. The textbook begins by delving into the basics of acoustics and digital signal processing (DSP). In the next section, readers will find full coverage of the basic anatomy and physiology of the auditory mechanism. The third section contains eight chapters on psychoacoustics and how sound is perceived via the auditory pathways. The book wraps up with a brand-new section devoted to pathologies of the auditory mechanisms.

New to the Second Edition

  • New coauthor, Jeremy J. Donai, AuD, PhD, brings his extensive clinical and research experience to the concepts discussed
  • Nine new chapters, including:
    • Review of Speech Acoustics (Chapter 2)
    • Digital Signal Processing (Chapter 3)
    • Binaural Processing (Chapter 8)
    • Temporal Processing (Chapter 10)
    • Signal Detection Theory (Chapter 13)
    • Auditory Perception and Hearing Impairment (Chapter 14)
    • Separate and expanded chapters for Pathologies of the Auditory Mechanism (Chapter 9) from first edition.
      • Pathologies of the Conductive Auditory Mechanism (Chapter 15)
      • Pathologies of the Sensory Auditory Mechanism (Chapter 16)
      • Pathologies of the Central Auditory Mechanism (Chapter 17)
  • Clinical Notes and Vocabulary Checks features have been added through the text
  • Evidence-based information incorporated throughout the text
  • Updated Recommended Readings list
  • Ancillary materials accessible on a PluralPlus companion website: a sample syllabus, test bank, and PowerPoint lecture slides for instructors, as well as practice quizzes, anatomy-labelling exercises, audio examples, and overview lecture videos for students

Key Features

  • Learning Objectives and Key Terms at the beginning of each chapter prepare the student for the chapter contents
  • Two-color anatomical and line illustrations aid understanding of important technical concepts
  • Q & A boxes reinforce important information presented in the text
  • A Glossary of important terms


"I found this textbook to be one of the most helpful compared to past textbooks. It was easy to follow and all of the concepts were thoughtfully and fully explained in a way beginners could understand. Because I am a more visual learner, I also found the added pictures and diagrams to be extremely helpful for me. Overall, this is one of my favorite textbooks I've used."
Anna Claire Smith, Student in Doctor of Audiology Program, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center 

"I think it is much easier to read than the original hearing science textbook we used in undergrad. I like how the key terms/concepts are in blue and are that way consistently throughout the text. Also, I like the vocabulary checkpoints because it brings you back to those important concepts without having to flip back pages trying to find it. The visuals are really good and help a lot with each topic throughout the book. As someone who is a more visual learner, that is really important to me. I get bored reading through a lot of black and white pages so it’s nice to not only have the blue coloring but also the images/figures frequently throughout."
—Michaela Machak, Towson University student

"I think the biggest strength of this book is the level at which it is written. So many hearing science books are far too deep and difficult for an undergraduate level course. The material is kept at an introductory level while explaining concepts in easy to understand language.  The presentation of the material sets students up for success when applying hearing science to clinical aspects in future studies.  Breaking the anatomy/physiology down into sections related to conductive, sensory, and central mechanisms really helps when later explaining conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.  ...I was very happy with the Clinic Notes in each section.  So often, students have difficulty understanding the need to learn about hearing science and the Clinic Notes allow the students to see the material will be relevant in their future studies in Audiology and/or Speech-Language Pathology."
—Kim E. Sesing, AuD, CCC-A, Assistant Professor, Department of Speech-Language Pathology, Concordia University Wisconsin

"Overall, a great textbook and includes a lot of information that is necessary for an undergraduate student to get an idea of the profession of audiology. The learning objectives give a great summary of each chapter and are a good tool for creating study guides. The clinical notes and question and answer sections in each chapter are fantastic.  The CANS chapter is well organized and goes into great depth, with excellent figures. This chapter was well done and better than I have seen in other textbooks. There is humor incorporated in the book, throughout which helps the reader connect with the authors and facilitates learning."
—Tiffany Shelton, AuD, CCC-A, Clinical Assistant Professor, Sorensen Center for Clinical Excellence, Utah State University

"The visuals and the vocabulary checks are major strengths of the text. Overall, the text is quite effective at presenting all necessary requirements for a Hearing Science course."
—Donna Pitts, AuD, CCC-A, Associate Professor, Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, Loyola University Maryland

“The second edition of Hearing Science Fundamentals is a simply and clearly written introductory text, ideal for students beginning their training. It covers topics ranging from anatomy and physiology to auditory perception. This edition includes nine new chapters in addition to an expended section on auditory system pathologies. Each chapter provides an overview of key theoretical concepts with useful ‘vocabulary checkpoints’ to help familiarize the reader with technical terminology. ...Clinical audiology students are likely to find the ‘clinical notes’ boxes throughout the text helpful in considering how their theoretical knowledge can apply in a clinical context…The book provides a good starting point for building an understanding of the basic concepts underlying the study of hearing science…
The online supplementary materials are extensive including quizzes and lecture videos as well as anatomy exercises. These online resources are well worth utilizing, particularly for students preparing for assessments. There are also elements that may be useful for teaching professionals looking to create or refresh their own lecture materials, with example lecture slides and a test bank….the book is a useful addition to any academic audiology library.”

—Saima Rajasingam, Lecturer in Audiology, Department of Vision and Hearing Sciences, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Cambridge, UK in ENT & Audiology News (September/October 2022)


Section I. Acoustics

Chapter 1. Basic Acoustics
Key Terms
Learning Objectives

Sinusoidal Motion

Spatial Concepts

Wavelength (λ)

Temporal Concepts

Frequency/Period Relationship
Frequency/Wavelength Relationship

Sound Propagation and Interference
Complex Sounds
Periodicity Versus Aperiodicity
Cavity (Acoustical) Resonance
Frequency Response Curve
Ear Canal Analogy
The Decibel
Computational Perspective

Hearing Threshold Level and Audiometric Zero (0 dB HL)

Recommended Readings

Chapter 2. Review of Speech Acoustics
Helen A. Boyd-Pratt and Jeremy J. Donai

Key Terms
Learning Objectives
Source-Filter Theory and Vocal Tract Anatomy
Acoustic Measures

Fundamental Frequency
Voice Onset Time
Root Mean Square Amplitude
Formants (Spectral Resonances)
Long-Term Average Spectrum (LTAS)

Speech Sound Classification

Consonant Classification
Vowel Classification

Speech Intelligibility Index (SII) and Count-the-Dots Audiogram

Count-the-Dots Audiogram

Ling 6 Sounds Test
Recommended Readings

Chapter 3. Digital Signal Processing
Key Terms
Learning Objectives
Amplitude Quantization and Sampling Frequency
Aliasing and Anti-Aliasing Filtering

Frequency Versus Time Tradeoff (Frequency Resolution Versus Temporal Resolution)

Digital Hearing Aid Signal Processing

Directional Microphones and Digital Noise Reduction

Recommended Readings

Section II.  Structure and Function

Chapter 4. Anatomy and Physiology of the Conductive Auditory Mechanism
Key Terms
Learning Objectives
Outer Ear

Auricle (Pinna)
External Auditory Meatus (Outer Ear Canal)
Tympanic Membrane (Eardrum)

Middle Ear

Tympanic Cavity Proper (Tympanum)
Middle Ear Muscles

Function of the Conductive Mechanism

Non-Acoustic Function
Acoustic Function
Impedance Mismatch
Auditory (Eustachian) Tube

Action of the Middle Ear Muscles
Recommended Readings

Chapter 5. Anatomy and Physiology of the Sensory Auditory Mechanism
Key Terms
Learning Objectives
Inner Ear
Function of the Sensory Mechanism

Mechanical Properties
Active Processes
Cochlear Electrophysiology
Resting Potential
Potentials Seen as Response to Stimulation
Single-Cell Electrical Activity
Phase Locking

Recommended Readings

Chapter 6. Anatomy and Physiology of the Central Auditory Mechanism
Key Terms
Learning Objectives
Afferent Central Auditory Pathway
Interhemispheric Connections
Efferent Central Auditory Pathway
Recommended Readings

Section III. Psychoacoustics

Chapter 7. Normal Hearing
Key Terms
Learning Objectives
Stimulus Characteristics

Stimulus Frequency

Stimulus Duration
Stimulus Intensity
Methods of Stimulus Presentation


Assessment of Auditory Sensitivity

Method of Limits
Method of Adjustment
Method of Constant Stimuli

Listener (Subject) Variables

Age Variation

What Is “Normal Hearing”?
Localization of Sound

Interaural Intensity (Level) Cues for Localization
Interaural Aural Time (Phase) Cues for Localization

Hearing by Bone Conduction
Recommended Readings

Chapter 8. Binaural Processing
Katharine Fitzharris

Key Terms
Learning Objectives
Advantages of Binaural Hearing

Listening in Noise

Binaural Squelch
Directional Hearing

Vertical Localization
Minimal Audible Angle (MAA)
Minimal Audible Movement Angle (MAMA)
Distance Perception
Precedence Effect

Disadvantages of Binaural Hearing
Physiology of Binaural Hearing

Afferent Pathways
Efferent Pathways

Recommended Readings

Chapter 9. Masking
Key Terms
Learning Objectives
Masker-Signal Relationship and Sound Level

Masking of Tones by Other Tones
Masking of Tones by Narrow Noise Bands

The Critical Band

Masking of Tones by Wide Noise Bands

Special Cases of Masking

Energetic and Informational Masking

Masking in Clinical Audiology
Recommended Readings

Chapter 10. Temporal Processing
Key Terms
Learning Objectives
Neural Physiology 
Temporal Fine Structure and Temporal Envelope

Dip Listening
Modulation Rate and Modulation Depth

Temporal Processing Skills

Temporal Integration
Temporal Resolution
Temporal Patterning
Temporal Masking

Recommended Readings

Chapter 11. Loudness and Pitch
Key Terms
Learning Objectives

Residue Pitch and the Missing Fundamental

Recommended Readings

Chapter 12.  Differential Sensitivity
Key Terms
Learning Objectives
The Fechner-Weber Fraction
Difference Limen for Intensity
Difference Limen for Frequency
Recommended Readings

Chapter 13. Signal Detection Theory
Key Terms
Learning Objectives
Response Distributions
Response Types

Sensitivity and Specificity

Response Bias
Discriminability Index (d′) and ROC Curves
Ceiling and Floor Effects
Recommended Readings

Chapter 14. Auditory Perception and Hearing Impairment
Key Terms
Learning Objectives
Outer Hair Cell (OHC) Damage

Auditory Recruitment

Inner Hair Cell (IHC) Damage

Cochlear Dead Regions

Auditory Nerve Damage
Effects on Frequency Selectivity

Auditory Excitation Patterns

Effects on Temporal Processing
Recommended Readings

Section IV.  Pathologies of the Auditory Mechanisms

Chapter 15. Pathologies of the Conductive Auditory Mechanism
Key Terms
Learning Objectives
Pathologies of the Outer Ear

Chondritis and Cauliflower Ear
External Auditory Canal
Impacted Cerumen

Pathologies of the Middle Ear

Eustachian Tube (Auditory Tube)
Otitis Media

Pathologies of the Middle Ear Ossicles

Ossicular Discontinuity

Recommended Readings

Chapter 16. Pathologies of the Sensory Auditory Mechanism
Key Terms
Learning Objectives
Inner Ear Pathologies

Auditory and Non-Auditory Effects of Noise
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Socioacusis and Presbycusis
Meniere’s Disease
Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Auditory Nerve

Acoustic Neuroma (Vestibular Schwannoma)
Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder

Recommended Readings

Chapter 17. Pathologies of the Central Auditory Mechanism
Key Terms
Learning Objectives
(Central) Auditory Processing Definition
Signs and Symptoms
(C)APD Evaluation
Behavioral (Central) Auditory Skill Areas

Auditory Figure Ground
Low-Redundancy Speech
Dichotic Listening
Temporal Processing

Electrophysiological Assessment

Neural Response Overview

Management Strategies

Environmental Modifications
Compensatory Strategies
Auditory Training
Assistive Listening Technology

Pathologies of the Central Auditory Pathway

Traumatic Brain Injury
Cortical/Central Deafness
Cerebrovascular Accident
Multiple Sclerosis

Recommended Readings


Norman J. Lass

Norman J. Lass, PhD, is Professor Emeritus at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV. Dr. Lass was a faculty member for more htan 40 years and taught coureses in speech and hearing science throughout his time at West Virginia University. 

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Jeremy J. Donai

Jeremy J. Donai, AuD, PhD, is an Associate Professor and Audiology Program Director at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC).  Dr. Donai also serves as the Director of the Auditory Perception Lab at TTUHSC.  Over his career, Dr. Donai has had significant clinical, teaching, and research experience at multiple universities.  His research involves the study of high-frequency speech energy.

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Hearing Science Fundamentals, Second Edition with access to supplementary student and instructor materials on a PluralPlus companion website.


To access the student materials, you must register the access code printed on the inside front cover of your textbook on the companion website.


To access the instructor materials, you must contact Plural Publishing, Inc. to be verified as an instructor and receive your access code.

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            Tel: 866-758-7251 (toll free) or 858-492-1555

*Note for students: If you have purchased this textbook used or have rented it, your access code will not work if it was already redeemed by the original buyer of the book. Plural Publishing does not offer replacement access codes for used or rented textbooks.

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