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Front Psychol. 2014 Oct 7;5:1097. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01097. eCollection 2014.

Auditory/visual distance estimation: accuracy and variability.

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Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Louisville Louisville, KY, USA.
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Louisville Louisville, KY, USA ; Division of Communicative Disorders, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, University of Louisville Louisville, KY, USA.


Past research has shown that auditory distance estimation improves when listeners are given the opportunity to see all possible sound sources when compared to no visual input. It has also been established that distance estimation is more accurate in vision than in audition. The present study investigates the degree to which auditory distance estimation is improved when matched with a congruent visual stimulus. Virtual sound sources based on binaural room impulse response (BRIR) measurements made from distances ranging from approximately 0.3 to 9.8 m in a concert hall were used as auditory stimuli. Visual stimuli were photographs taken from the participant's perspective at each distance in the impulse response measurement setup presented on a large HDTV monitor. Participants were asked to estimate egocentric distance to the sound source in each of three conditions: auditory only (A), visual only (V), and congruent auditory/visual stimuli (A+V). Each condition was presented within its own block. Sixty-two participants were tested in order to quantify the response variability inherent in auditory distance perception. Distance estimates from both the V and A+V conditions were found to be considerably more accurate and less variable than estimates from the A condition.


distance perception; multimodal; sound localization; spatial hearing; virtual sound

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