Perceptual Weighting of Binaural Lateralization Cues across Frequency Bands

Axel Ahrens*, Suyash Narendra Joshi, Bastian Epp

*Corresponding author for this work

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The auditory system uses interaural time and level differences (ITD and ILD) as cues to localize and lateralize sounds. The availability of ITDs and ILDs in the auditory system is limited by neural phase-locking and by the head size, respectively. Although the frequency-specific limitations are well known, the relative contribution of ITDs and ILDs in individual frequency bands in broadband stimuli is unknown. To determine these relative contributions, or spectral weights, listeners were asked to lateralize stimuli consisting of eleven simultaneously presented 1-ERB-wide noise bands centered between 442 and 5544 Hz and separated by 1-ERB-wide gaps. Either ITDs or ILDs were varied independently across each noise band, while fixing the other interaural disparity to either 0 dB or 0 μs. The weights were obtained using a multiple linear regression analysis. In a second experiment, the effect of auditory enhancement on the spectral weights was investigated. The enhancement of single noise bands was realized by presenting ten of the noise bands as preceding and following sounds (pre- and post-cursors, respectively). Listeners were asked to lateralize the stimuli as in the first experiment. Results show that in the absence of pre- and post-cursors, only the lowest or highest frequency band received highest weight for ITD and ILD, respectively. Auditory enhancement led to significantly enhanced weights given to the band without the pre- and post-cursor. The weight enhancement could only be observed at low frequencies, when determined with ITD cues and for low and high frequencies for ILDs. Hence, the auditory system seems to be able to change the spectral weighting of binaural information depending on the information content.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJARO - Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Pages (from-to)485–496
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Binaural hearing
  • Spectral integration
  • Spectral weighting
  • Auditory enhancement


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