The measurement of the lateralization of narrow bands of noise using an acoustic pointing paradigm: the effect of sound-pressure level

J Acoust Soc Am. 1994 Mar;95(3):1534-47. doi: 10.1121/1.408541.


The effects of varying interaural time delay (ITD) and interaural intensity difference (IID) were measured in normal-hearing subjects as a function of eleven frequencies and at sound-pressure levels (SPL) from 60 to 90 dB SPL and at 25-dB sensation level. Using an "acoustic" pointing paradigm, the IID of a 500-Hz narrow-band (100 Hz) noise (the "pointer") was varied by the subject to coincide with that of a "target" ITD stimulus. ITDs of 0, +/- 200, and +/- 400 microseconds were obtained through total waveform delays of narrow-band noise (NBN), including envelope and fine structure. The results of this experiment confirm the traditional view of binaural hearing for like stimuli: There is little perceived displacement away from 0 IID at frequencies of 1250 Hz and above. In the low frequencies, subjects required IIDs greater than the expected 10 dB to perceive a fully lateralized image, and they varied in the maximum value of IID that they required, regardless of frequency. Our subjects did not always perceive the intracranial locations of ITD targets symmetrically: When the signal was delayed to one ear, the resultant matching IID was often different in magnitude than for the same ITD target delayed to the opposite ear for the identical frequency. The results of two subjects suggested that people with asymmetric normal hearing have adapted to their asymmetry for lateralization tasks: The subjects were found to lateralize toward the ear with the greater SPL stimulus, regardless of the ear to which the signal was delayed, when signals of equal SL were presented, and toward the leading ear when signals of equal SPL were presented (unequal SL). Increasing the presentation levels above 60 dB SPL had an effect on the perception of high-frequency ITD targets: As the intensity level increased, the slopes of the IID versus ITD functions increased indicating better discrimination of ITD. This study is in agreement with other studies in providing strong evidence of individual differences in lateralization experiments. These individual differences might be attributable to differential sensitivity to ambiguous time stimulus cues, differential task sensitivity, age effects, threshold asymmetries, or criterion variability.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Attention*
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Dichotic Listening Tests*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality*
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Loudness Perception*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pitch Discrimination*
  • Potentiometry
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Time Perception*