Auditory Cognitive Psychology: Sabine Schlittmeier


Research at the Teaching and Research Area „Psychology with a Focus on Auditory Cognition“

Our research focuses on the question, which characteristics of sounds and hearing conditions are decisive for cognitive performance effects, subjective perceptions and sound evaluations. Our acoustic-related research topics can be divided into three main areas: Auditory cognition of relevant sounds, auditory cognition of irrelevant sounds and psychoacoustics. However, not in all current research projects there is something „for the ears", i.e. we also conduct research from a non-acoustic perspective.

  Cognition-technology-environment interface Copyright: Sabine Schlittmeier

Basically, our research is distinguished by two characteristics. On the one hand, our research is located at the interface of cognition, technology and the environment. Depending on the research question focused on, the research projects can therefore also be assigned to cognitive ergonomics, applied cognitive psychology and/or environmental psychology. On the other hand, our research inherents a basic scientific and an application-oriented perspective, which we prefer to relate to one another. Our contributions to applied questions should be based on solid psychological knowledge, whereby application-oriented projects often reveal gaps in existing data or even contradictions in cognitive psychological models. Accordingly, we cooperate in many research projects with scientists from other disciplines and practitioners from business and industry.

  Relevant Speech Copyright: Sabine Schlittmeier

Auditory cognition of relevant sounds

In our studies, we examine how certain cognitive processes, functions, and performances depend on the fact that the information to be cognitively processed is heard, and how it is heard. For example, in cognitive psychology studies on text comprehension and text recall, we present spoken conversations as plausible as possible, e.g. by using binaural sounds which inherent the spatial localization of the speakers and the acoustic properties of the room. Our investigations of the associated psychological effects focus on cognitive-psychological modelling as well as application-related questions of cognitive ergonomics, e.g., the optimisation of assistance systems, human-computer interaction, or virtual reality (VR) applications.

  Irrelevant Speech Copyright: Sabine Schlittmeier

Auditory cognition of irrelevant sounds

Regarding irrelevant background sounds, we are interested in identifying the decisive sound characteristics for disturbance effects on certain cognitive performances as well as in explaining and modelling the found effect patterns. Our findings are also used to develop and evaluate acoustic optimizations in working and other environments, e.g. for the Sound Design of partial maskers which are played in office environments to abate office noise. Here, we are in particular interested in the differential effects of the acoustic environment on objective performance parameters and subjective well-being.

  Psychoacoustics Copyright: Sabine Schlittmeier


As psychologists we contribute listening tests in interdisciplinary projects with acousticians and engineers to reliably measure what „something“ sounds like. This knowledge can then be used, e.g., to optimize the acoustic emissions of technical devices or systems. Our listening tests explore the relation between physical sound characteristics, short-term annoyance and hearing impressions on different psychoacoustic (e.g. roughness, sharpness) or connotative dimensions (e.g. serious, valuable, aggressive). We have many years of experience with electrical tools and systems, household appliances and automobiles.


Cognitive ergonomics, applied cognitive psychology and environmental psychology

Current research projects:
• Assistance on smart glasses on construction sites
• Short-term memory for visual landmarks in a virtual maze
• Cognitive effects and biases in environmental communication
• Development of the profession „environmental psychologist“