Hearing the World: A Remote Study of Auditory Perception

Headphone surrounding an image of the earth.

(Scroll down to participate) 

Our environment is rich with sounds originating from different objects, persons and animals. For example, imagine walking along a busy street. As you walk you will hear different sounds: a group of friends standing outside a coffee shop talking and laughing, cars driving by, a car horn honking loudly and a dog barking after seeing a squirrel run up a tree. All of these sound waves will reach your ears as one mixture, but, remarkably, your brain is able to properly organize what you are hearing into separate sound events, coming from different sources.

How does our brain do this? Our brain relies on a set of auditory rules to perceptually organize sounds from our environment. 

For more information: See our recent public presentations at the 2020 Bay Area Science Festival! (Site requires free registration)

  1. Hearing the World, Part I: Lessons From the Brain and Blindness
  2. Hearing the World, Part II: What We Have Learned From You


Goals of the Study

For the current study, we aim to uncover whether we are innately sensitive to auditory rules, or whether we need experience to learn them over time. If we learn these rules, do we learn all the rules at once or at different stages of life?

We hope to answer these questions with your help!


How can you help?

While playing our gamified task, you will hear different sounds through your headphones and be asked to make judgments about what you’ve heard.

Data from your participation will help us understand which statistical properties of sounds are important and useful in helping us transform sounds into perceptually meaningful elements!

Important: Please wear headphones and try to find a quiet space for the 20 minutes it takes to participate in the study.


How to participate

  1. Email AuditoryStudySKI@gmail.com to express your interest. (For adult participants, we are also recruiting participants from the Prolific.co membership community.)
  2. We will send you a link to our online signup and consent form. If you are under the age of 18 years, you will need your parent or legal guardian to electronically sign this form alongside your own assent.
  3. You will be emailed the weblink to the gamified task and your unique participant ID.
  4. After the end of the session (within a few days) you will receive a $5 value gift card code via email.

 *** Our gamified task works best with the Google Chrome browser. 


Email us at AuditoryStudySKI@gmail.com!


Share this project!

If you have family members and friends who would like to take part in this study, please send them the link to this page!



This study has been approved by the Smith-Kettlewell IRB [Protocol #: WKY001, TENG001].