Teaching acoustics to psychology and neuroscience students


  • Frank A. Russo Ryerson University


In this talk I will present my experience with teaching acoustics to psychology and neuroscience students. This will include consideration of work with undergraduates in a psychology of music class as well as graduate studies embarking on research in the cognitive neurosciences of music. In general, these students do not possess a background in physics or signal processing. Many phenomena in acoustics need to be considered from a conceptual perspective. Phenomena that we typically address include harmonic structure and its relation to octave equivalence; sound propagation and its relation to auditory scene analysis; and spectral and temporal features that may be used to predict variability in behavioral responses to music (e.g., dancing).  In some cases, students are inspired by this conceptual understanding and choose to dive deeper, developing their own computational implementations of features. In other cases, students prefer to rely on toolboxes that have implementations of acoustic features that have been programmed by others. A perennial challenge is dealing with varying levels of rudimentary knowledge within the same group of students. Regardless, my experience suggests that all students benefit from a multidisciplinary approach that considers the same concept from multiple perspectives, and from ample use of audio demonstrations.

Author Biography

Frank A. Russo, Ryerson University




How to Cite

Russo FA. Teaching acoustics to psychology and neuroscience students. Canadian Acoustics [Internet]. 2017 Aug. 26 [cited 2022 Jul. 6];45(3). Available from: https://jcaa.caa-aca.ca/index.php/jcaa/article/view/3144



Proceedings of the Acoustics Week in Canada

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