Use of binaural and monaural cues to identify the lateral position of a virtual object using echoes

Daniel Rowan*, Timos Papadopoulos, David Edwards, Robert Allen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Under certain conditions, sighted and blind humans can use echoes to discern characteristics of otherwise silent objects. Previous research concluded that robust horizontal-plane object localisation ability, without using head movement, depends on information above 2kHz. While a strong interaural level difference (ILD) cue is available, it was not clear if listeners were using that or the monaural level cue that necessarily accompanies ILD. In this experiment, 13 sighted and normal-hearing listeners were asked to identify the right-vs.-left position of an object in virtual auditory space. Sounds were manipulated to remove binaural cues (binaural vs. diotic presentation) and prevent the use of monaural level cues (using level roving). With low- (<2kHz) and high- (>2kHz) frequency bands of noise, performance with binaural presentation and level rove exceeded that expected from use of monaural level cues and that with diotic presentation. It is argued that a high-frequency binaural cue (most likely ILD), and not a monaural level cue, is crucial for robust object localisation without head movement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-39
Number of pages8
JournalHearing Research
Volume323
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
David Edwards was supported by an RCUK studentship through a Basic Technology Programme grant to the Bio-Inspired Acoustical Systems EP/C523776/1 project ( www.biasweb.org ). Box-plots were created using a (modified) template produced by Vertex42 ( www.vertex42.com/ExcelTemplates/box-whisker-plot.html ). The MATLAB code for the gammatone filter bank was produced by Dan Ellis and acquired from www.ee.columbia.edu/∼dpwe/resources/matlab/gammatonegram . A database of our IRs covering a wide range of conditions, including those in the current experiment, can be downloaded via: www.southampton.ac.uk/engineering/research/projects/make_like_a_bat.page . Many thanks to the two reviewers and the Associate Editor, Brian Moore, for helpful comments during the review process.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Authors.

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