Comparison of auditory spatial bisection and minimum audible angle in front, lateral, and back space

Elena Aggius-Vella, Andrew Kolarik, Monica Gori, Silvia Cirstea, Claudio Campus, Brian Moore, Shahina Pardhan

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Although vision is important for calibrating auditory spatial perception, it only provides information about frontal sound sources. Previous studies of blind and sighted people support the idea that azimuthal spatial bisection in frontal space requires visual calibration, while detection of a change in azimuth (minimum audible angle, MAA) does not. The influence of vision on the ability to map frontal, lateral and back space has not been investigated. Performance in spatial bisection and MAA tasks was assessed for normally sighted blindfolded subjects using bursts of white noise presented frontally, laterally, or from the back relative to the subjects. Thresholds for both tasks were similar in frontal space, lower for the MAA task than for the bisection task in back space, and higher for the MAA task in lateral space. Two interpretations of the results are discussed, one in terms of visual calibration and the use of internal representations of source location and the other based on comparison of the magnitude or direction of change of the available binaural cues. That bisection thresholds were increased in back space relative to front space, where visual calibration information is unavailable, suggests that an internal representation of source location was used for the bisection task.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6279
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2020

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