During the 12th International Symposium on Hearing in Mierlo in the year 2000 an initiative was formed to promote the formation of a technical committee “Psychological and physiological acoustics” (TC PPA) within the organization of the EAA. This committee started its provisional operation with a TC meeting at the EAA convention at Sevilla in 2002. At this meeting, Georg Klump (Oldenburg University, Germany) and Armin Kohlrausch (Philips Research Laboratories and Technical University Eindhoven, The Netherlands) were elected as provisional speakers of the TC.
The TC PPA interconnects researchers from the fields of psychophysics and physiology of the auditory system, and modellers using an approach that is based on neural structures in the auditory system (i.e., use a systems approach). Meetings like the International Symposium on Hearing have demonstrated that bringing together the scientists from these three fields allows for a better understanding of the processing mechanisms in the auditory system and the perceptual consequences. By making predictions about the system behaviour, models help to generate testable hypotheses about the functional consequences of a certain neural circuit and its response patterns. The physiological studies can provide evidence whether a certain mechanism of processing in the auditory system offers a sufficient explanation for a perceptual phenomenon. Understanding the physiological mechanisms underlying auditory perception will not only have its own merits but may foster new developments in hearing-aid technology and in acoustic man-computer interactions.
The goals of the TC PPA are to provide an organizational basis for exchange of students and more experienced researchers between laboratories, to offer a market of opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and to support teaching activities on the European level such as summer schools focussed on specific topics linking the different fields. It can supply a website with information that is useful for teaching such as links to course materials covering auditory physiology and psychoacoustics, to demonstrations of auditory mechanisms, or by offering information on CDs providing tutorials in the field of audition. Since knowledge about human hearing is of increased relevance for a number of technical systems (perceptual audio coding, digital hearing aids, augmented and virtual environments, to name a few) the TC PPA will also act as a link between academic research institutions and (industrial) institutions of applied research (job market, industrial internships, supranational funding initiatives). As a timely example, the TC P&P should propose fields of interest for future research funded on the European level and take an active role in setting the research goals at the EU level. It should make an effort to form new links between national scientific communities in the field by using the organizational framework provided by the EAA.
Established as well as young researchers in the field of hearing science will form the core in the starting phase of the TC P&P. They will benefit from the goals of the TC themselves and can provide the network for integrating graduate students that aim at developing an interdisciplinary approach to the field.
All interested colleagues are invited.