Spectral information for detection of acoustic time to arrival

Michael S. Gordon, Frank A. Russo, Ewen MacDonald

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The exponential increase of intensity for an approaching sound source provides salient information for a listener to make judgments of time to arrival (TTA). Specifically, a listener will experience a greater rate of increasing intensity for higher than for lower frequencies during a sound source’s approach. To examine the relative importance of this spectral information, listeners were asked to make
judgments about the arrival times of nine 1-octave-band sound sources (the bands were consecutive, nonoverlapping single octaves, ranging from 40–80 Hz to ~10–20 kHz). As is typical in TTA tasks, listeners tended to underestimate the arrival time of the approaching sound source. In naturally occurring and independently manipulated amplification curves, bands with center frequencies between 120 and 250 Hz caused the least underestimation, and bands with center frequencies between 2000 and 7500 Hz caused the most underestimation. This spectral influence appears to be related to the greater perceived urgency of higher-frequency sounds.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAttention, Perception & Psychophysics
Pages (from-to)738–750
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Audition
  • Motion in depth
  • Perception and action


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