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Modelling of human low frequency sound localization acuity demonstrates dominance of spatial variation of interaural time difference and suggests uniform just-noticeable differences in interaural time difference.

Smith, RC; Price, SR; (2014) Modelling of human low frequency sound localization acuity demonstrates dominance of spatial variation of interaural time difference and suggests uniform just-noticeable differences in interaural time difference. PLoS One , 9 (2) , Article e89033. 10.1371/journal.pone.0089033. Green open access

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Abstract

Sound source localization is critical to animal survival and for identification of auditory objects. We investigated the acuity with which humans localize low frequency, pure tone sounds using timing differences between the ears. These small differences in time, known as interaural time differences or ITDs, are identified in a manner that allows localization acuity of around 1° at the midline. Acuity, a relative measure of localization ability, displays a non-linear variation as sound sources are positioned more laterally. All species studied localize sounds best at the midline and progressively worse as the sound is located out towards the side. To understand why sound localization displays this variation with azimuthal angle, we took a first-principles, systemic, analytical approach to model localization acuity. We calculated how ITDs vary with sound frequency, head size and sound source location for humans. This allowed us to model ITD variation for previously published experimental acuity data and determine the distribution of just-noticeable differences in ITD. Our results suggest that the best-fit model is one whereby just-noticeable differences in ITDs are identified with uniform or close to uniform sensitivity across the physiological range. We discuss how our results have several implications for neural ITD processing in different species as well as development of the auditory system.

Type: Article
Title: Modelling of human low frequency sound localization acuity demonstrates dominance of spatial variation of interaural time difference and suggests uniform just-noticeable differences in interaural time difference.
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089033
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0089033
Language: English
Additional information: © 2014 Smith and Price. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Cell and Developmental Biology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1420941
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