Estimating sound source distance with and without vision

Optom Vis Sci. 2001 May;78(5):270-5. doi: 10.1097/00006324-200105000-00009.


Background: Visual capture is an important perceptual phenomenon in which the spatial location of a visual target influences the perceived location of a related auditory target. Little is known about visual capture in a distance dimension.

Methods: Two groups of listeners judged the apparent distances of five loudspeaker sound sources, extending from 1 to 5 m. In one group, each listener was allowed to view the loudspeaker array. In the second group, listeners were blindfolded for the duration of the experiment.

Results: No visual capture effects were observed. Instead, the addition of vision was found to both improve distance judgment accuracy and lower judgment variability compared with the auditory-only stimulus. Auditory-only accuracy was found to substantially improve over the course of the experiment, however.

Conclusions: Visual capture in distance is perhaps less general than suggested by past research, a result that has important implications for the display of spatial layout under conditions where vision is either missing or degraded.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sound Localization / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology