Externalization versus Internalization of Sound in Normal-hearing and Hearing-impaired Listeners

Björn Ohl, Søren Laugesen, Jörg Buchholz, Torsten Dau

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearch


The externalization of sound, i. e. the perception of auditory events as being located outside of the head, is a natural phenomenon for normalhearing listeners, when perceiving sound coming from a distant physical sound source. It is potentially useful for hearing in background noise, but the relevant cues might be distorted by a hearing impairment and also by the processing of the incoming sound through hearing aids. In this project, two intuitive tests in natural real-life surroundings were developed, which capture the limits of the perception of externalization. For this purpose, an auralization system for headphones using individual cues was implemented and a strategy to modify the degree of the externalization was proposed. While normal-hearing listeners obtained consistent results, both individually and across subjects, the limits of externalization varied more within and across listeners in the hearing-impaired group. Partly, there was an influence by the direction of sound incidence. On average across subjects, the dynamic range available to perceive externalization was reduced compared to normal-hearing subjects. Overall, it was shown that hearing-impaired listeners are able to perceive externalization, but also that they are less sensitive to minor deviations from complete internalization and externalization.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIn Fortschritte der Akustik
Number of pages136
VolumeMI. 14:25
PublisherDeutsche Gesellschaft für Akustik
Publication date2010
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventJahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Akustik - Berlin, Germany
Duration: 15 Mar 201018 Mar 2010
Conference number: 36


ConferenceJahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Akustik


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