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Single Simulated Reflection Audibility Thresholds for Oral Sounds in Untrained Sighted People

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Human echolocation is an auditory phenomenon, and as such, inherits the benefits and limitations of the auditory system. In this work, we study the detection thresholds for single synthetic reflections in 12 echolocation-naïve, sighted participants, using external and self-generated oral clicks and hissing sounds, and link the results to previous psychoacoustic findings. Simulated obstacle distances ranged between 0.5 and 16 m, equivalent to reflection delays between 3 and 94 ms relative to the direct sound. Participants had to indicate which out of three intervals (3AFC procedure) added a single reflection to the direct sound, and a one-up two-down rule adjusted the reflected-to-direct level difference (RDLD) applied to the simulated reflection. The thresholds decreased with increasing simulated obstacle distance when using oral clicks, but not when using hissing sounds. Detection with hissing sounds is closely related to coloration and loudness detection. For oral clicks, limitations are imposed by forward masking: louder and shorter clicks resulted in lower thresholds. The fine acuity with oral clicks observed at long distances suggests that, in situations with low background noise and few competing reflections such as open air spaces, it may be possible to detect reflections from large distant objects like walls or buildings.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2017

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  • 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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