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URMC / Labs / Maddox Lab / Projects / Oculomotor enhancements of auditory spatial perception

Oculomotor enhancements of auditory spatial perception

Graph of Oculomotor enhancements

Listeners are better able to distinguish the locations of two nearby sounds
when their eyes are directed towards the sounds, even without moving their head
(purple line above green line in left panel). Surprisingly, the same effect was
not observed when auditory attention was directed, rather than eye gaze
(purple and green lines overlap in right panel). See the full article here: 

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.02.021

How does eye-gaze influence auditory perception?


The perception of auditory space, derived primarily from binaural cues (i.e., combining information from both ears), is well studied and of paramount importance to segregating and selecting a target sound source in complex environments. Only a tiny portion of those studies have considered the direction of subjects’ eye-gaze, and the consideration given is usually just to provide a central fixation dot (or perhaps a blindfold). There are, however, shared neural processing regions between gaze and auditory attention and a small body of literature showing oculomotor impacts on sound localization—tantalizing reasons to think that gaze may make important contributions to auditory selective attention.

We are using behavior and eye-tracking to investigate the effects of eye-gaze on sound localization, and determine its importance to listening in crowded situations.

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