The contribution of two ears to the perception of vertical angle in sagittal planes

J Acoust Soc Am. 2001 Apr;109(4):1596-603. doi: 10.1121/1.1352084.


Because the input signals to the left and right ears are not identical, it is important to clarify the role of these signals in the perception of the vertical angle of a sound source at any position in the upper hemisphere. To obtain basic findings on upper hemisphere localization, this paper investigates the contribution of each pinna to the perception of vertical angle. Tests measured localization of the vertical angle in five planes parallel to the median plane. In the localization tests, the pinna cavities of one or both ears were occluded. Results showed that pinna cavities of both the near and far ears play a role in determining the perceived vertical angle of a sound source in any plane, including the median plane. As a sound source shifts laterally away from the median plane, the contribution of the near ear increases and, conversely, that of the far ear decreases. For saggital planes at azimuths greater than 60 degrees from midline, the far ear no longer contributes measurably to the determination of vertical angle.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Ear / anatomy & histology*
  • Ear / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Posture*
  • Sound