BME MS Thesis Defense - Salwa Masud

10:00 am on Thursday, April 17, 2014
CompNet Building, Room B02 (677 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02215)
Prof. Barbara Shinn Cunningham (Advisor)
Prof. Gerald Kidd
Prof. Steven Colburn

Title: "The role of high-frequency envelope cues for spatial hearing in rooms for normal-hearing listeners"

Perception of sound laterality (left-right angle) is mediated by both interaural time differences (ITD) and interaural level differences (ILD). Previous localization studies in anechoic settings consistently show that low-frequency ITDs dominate perception of source laterality. However, reverberant energy differentially degrades ITDs and ILDs; the effects of room reflections on the perceptual weight given to ITDs and ILDs are not well understood. Here, we tested the hypothesis that high-frequency envelope ITD cues are important for spatial judgments in reverberant rooms by measuring the perceived laterality of high-pass, low-pass and broadband sounds. Results show that when ILD cues and ITD envelope cues are both available, reverberant energy has the smallest effect on localization of high-pass stimuli. When ILD cues are set to zero, localization of high-pass stimuli with strong envelopes (i.e. click trains and speech tokens) is also minimally affected by reverberant energy; however, as envelope modulation is reduced, subjects show increasing localization bias, responding towards the center. Moreover, for stimuli with strong envelopes, subjects with better modulation detection sensitivity are affected less by the addition of reverberant energy. These results suggest that, in contrast to in anechoic space, high-frequency envelope ITD cues influence localization in reverberant settings.