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Auditory Distance Perception in Humans: A Summary of Past and Present Research

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Although auditory distance perception is a critical component of spatial hearing, it has received substantially less scientific 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.
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Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: May 1, 2005

More about this publication?
  • Acta Acustica united with Acustica, published together with the European Acoustics Association (EAA), is an international, peer-reviewed journal on acoustics. It publishes original articles on all subjects in the field of acoustics, such as general linear acoustics, nonlinear acoustics, macrosonics, flow acoustics, atmospheric sound, underwater sound, ultrasonics, physical acoustics, structural acoustics, noise control, active control, environmental noise, building acoustics, room acoustics, acoustic materials, acoustic signal processing, computational and numerical acoustics, hearing, audiology and psychoacoustics, speech, musical acoustics, electroacoustics, auditory quality of systems. It reports on original scientific research in acoustics and on engineering applications. The journal considers scientific papers, technical and applied papers, book reviews, short communications, doctoral thesis abstracts, etc. In irregular intervals also special issues and review articles are published.
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