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Auditory distance perception in humans : A summary of past and present research

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Author: Zahorik, P. · Brungart, D.S. · Bronkhorst, A.W.
Institution: TNO Defensie en Veiligheid
Source:Acustica united with Acta Acustica, 3, 91, 409-420
Identifier: 15984
Keywords: Acoustics and Audiology · Acoustic waves · Approximation theory · Behavioral research · Brain · Distance measurement · Electroencephalography · Estimation · Functions · Imaging techniques · Magnetoencephalography · Neurology · Psychophysiology · Data sets · Psychophysical functions · Sound sources · Spatial hearing · Audition


Although auditory distance perception is a critical component of spatial hearing, it has received substantially less scienti.c attention than the directional aspects of auditory localization. Here we summarize current knowledge on auditory distance perception, with special emphasis on recent research results. The summary will be structured around three central questions. 1. How accurately can humans estimate the distances of stationary sound sources? We show that this psychophysical relationship is well approximated by a compressive power function, which suggests that listeners systematically underestimate distances to faraway sound sources. 2. What determines perceived sound source distance? We examine the various acoustical and non-acoustical factors thought to contribute to source distance percepts, and summarize the psychophysical literature relevant to each factor. 3. What are the neural correlates to perceived sound source distance? Recent evidence points to the role of areas within right temporal cortex in auditory distance perception, as well as in other spatial tasks in different sensory modalities.