Human interaural time difference thresholds for sine tones: the high-frequency limit

J Acoust Soc Am. 2013 May;133(5):2839-55. doi: 10.1121/1.4795778.


The smallest detectable interaural time difference (ITD) for sine tones was measured for four human listeners to determine the dependence on tone frequency. At low frequencies, 250-700 Hz, threshold ITDs were approximately inversely proportional to tone frequency. At mid-frequencies, 700-1000 Hz, threshold ITDs were smallest. At high frequencies, above 1000 Hz, thresholds increased faster than exponentially with increasing frequency becoming unmeasurably high just above 1400 Hz. A model for ITD detection began with a biophysically based computational model for a medial superior olive (MSO) neuron that produced robust ITD responses up to 1000 Hz, and demonstrated a dramatic reduction in ITD-dependence from 1000 to 1500 Hz. Rate-ITD functions from the MSO model became inputs to binaural display models-both place based and rate-difference based. A place-based, centroid model with a rigid internal threshold reproduced almost all features of the human data. A signal-detection version of this model reproduced the high-frequency divergence but badly underestimated low-frequency thresholds. A rate-difference model incorporating fast contralateral inhibition reproduced the major features of the human threshold data except for the divergence. A combined, hybrid model could reproduce all the threshold data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Audiometry
  • Auditory Threshold*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Cues*
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Olivary Nucleus / cytology
  • Olivary Nucleus / physiology*
  • Pitch Perception*
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Signal Detection, Psychological
  • Time Factors
  • Time Perception*
  • Young Adult