Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation

8-2015

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department

Psychological and Brain Sciences

Degree Program

Experimental Psychology, PhD

Committee Chair

Zahorik, Pavel

Committee Member

Weihing, Jeffrey

Committee Member

Stilp, Christian

Committee Member

DeMarco, Paul

Committee Member

He, Zijian

Subject

Directional hearing; Auditory perception

Abstract

Auditory localization involves different cues depending on the spatial domain. Azimuth localization cues include interaural time differences (ITDs), interaural level differences (ILDs) and pinnae cues. Auditory distance perception (ADP) cues include intensity, spectral cues, binaural cues, and the direct-to-reverberant energy ratio (D/R). While D/R has been established as a primary ADP cue, it is unlikely that it is directly encoded in the auditory system because it can be difficult to extract from ongoing signals. It is also noteworthy that no neuronal population has been identified that specifically codes D/R. It has therefore been proposed that D/R is indirectly encoded in the auditory system, through sensitivity to other acoustic parameters that are correlated with D/R, such as temporal cues (Zahorik, 2002b), spectral properties (Jetzt, 1979; Larsen, 2008), and interaural correlation (Bronkhorst and Houtgast, 1999). An additional D/R correlate relies on attenuation of amplitude modulation (AM) as a function of distance. Room modulation transfer functions act as low-pass filters on AM signals, and therefore the direct portion of a signal will have less modulation depth attenuation than the reverberant portion. Although recent neural and behavioral work has demonstrated that this cue can provide distance information monaurally, the extent to which the modulation attenuation cue contributes to ADP relative to other ADP cues is not fully understood. It is also possible modulation attenuation by the room can provide additional directional localization information, perhaps through the resulting dynamic fluctuation of the ILD cue. The role of AM in directional sound localization has not been extensively studied, particularly in reverberant soundfields which can affect the modulation reaching the two ears in a directionally-dependent fashion. Three human psychophysical experiments assessed the role of AM signals in distance and directional auditory localization in reverberant soundfields. Experiment I focused on validating a graphical response method to be used in subsequent experiments. In Experiment II, an auditory distance estimation task was performed which yielded measures of the relative perceptual contributions of the modulation depth cue during ADP in a reverberant room. Experiment III investigated the effect of AM on binaural localization in the horizontal plane in a reverberant room.

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