Meaningful sounds represent the majority of sounds that humans hear and process in everyday life. Yet studies of human sound localization mainly use artificial stimuli such as clicks, pure tones, and noise bursts. The present study investigated the influence of behavioral relevance, sound category, and acoustic properties on the localization of complex, meaningful sounds in the horizontal plane. Participants localized vocalizations and traffic sounds with two levels of behavioral relevance (low and high) within each category, as well as amplitude-modulated tones. Results showed a small but significant effect of behavioral relevance: localization acuity was higher for complex sounds with a high level of behavioral relevance at several target locations. The data also showed category-specific effects: localization biases were lower, and localization precision higher, for vocalizations than for traffic sounds in central space. Several acoustic parameters influenced sound localization performance as well. Correcting localization responses for front-back reversals reduced the overall variability across sounds, but behavioral relevance and sound category still had a modulatory effect on sound localization performance in central auditory space. The results thus demonstrate that spatial hearing performance for complex sounds is influenced not only by acoustic characteristics, but also by sound category and behavioral relevance.

1.
Belin
,
P.
,
Fillion-Bilodeau
,
S.
, and
Gosselin
,
F.
(
2008
). “
The Montreal Affective Voices: A validated set of nonverbal affect bursts for research on auditory affective processing
,”
Behav. Res. Methods
40
(
2
),
531
539
.
2.
Benjamini
,
Y.
, and
Hochberg
,
Y.
(
1995
). “
Controlling the false discovery rate: A practical and powerful approach to multiple testing
,”
J. R. Stat. Soc. B
57
,
289
300
.
3.
Blauert
,
J.
(
1969
). “
Sound localization in the median plane
,”
Acta Acust. Acust.
22
(
4
),
205
213
.
4.
Bregman
,
A.
(
1990
).
Auditory Scene Analysis: The Perceptual Organization of Sound
(
MIT Press
,
Cambridge, MA
).
5.
Butler
,
R. A.
(
1986
). “
The bandwidth effect on monaural and binaural localization
,”
Hear. Res.
21
(
1
),
67
73
.
6.
Cherry
,
E. C.
(
1953
). “
Some experiments on the recognition of speech, with one and with two ears
,”
J. Acoust. Soc. Am.
25
(
5
),
975
979
.
7.
Derey
,
K.
,
Valente
,
G.
,
de Gelder
,
B.
, and
Formisano
,
E.
(
2015
). “
Opponent coding of sound location (azimuth) in planum temporale is robust to sound-level variations
,”
Cerebral Cortex
26
(
1
),
450
464
.
8.
Fritz
,
J.
,
Shamma
,
S.
,
Elhilali
,
M.
, and
Klein
,
D.
(
2003
). “
Rapid task-related plasticity of spectrotemporal receptive fields in primary auditory cortex
,”
Nat. Neurosci.
6
(
11
),
1216
1223
.
9.
Grothe
,
B.
,
Pecka
,
M.
, and
McAlpine
,
D.
(
2010
). “
Mechanisms of sound localization in mammals
,”
Physiol. Rev.
90
(
3
),
983
1012
.
10.
Hartmann
,
W. M.
,
Rakerd
,
B.
,
Crawford
,
Z. D.
, and
Zhang
,
P. X.
(
2016
). “
Transaural experiments and a revised duplex theory for the localization of low-frequency tones
,”
J. Acoust. Soc. Am.
139
(
2
),
968
985
.
11.
Kato
,
H. K.
,
Gillet
,
S. N.
, and
Isaacson
,
J. S.
(
2015
). “
Flexible sensory representations in auditory cortex driven by behavioral relevance
,”
Neuron
88
(
5
),
1027
1039
.
12.
Lomber
,
S. G.
, and
Malhotra
,
S.
(
2008
). “
Double dissociation of ‘what’ and ‘where’ processing in auditory cortex
,”
Nat. Neurosci.
11
(
5
),
609
616
(2008).
13.
Makous
,
J. C.
, and
Middlebrooks
,
J. C.
(
1990
). “
Two-dimensional sound localization by human listeners
,”
J. Acoust. Soc. Am.
87
(
5
),
2188
2200
.
14.
Middlebrooks
,
J. C.
, and
Green
,
D. M.
(
1991
). “
Sound localization by human listeners
,”
Ann. Rev. Psychol.
42
(
1
),
135
159
.
15.
Moerel
,
M.
,
De Martino
,
F.
,
Uğurbil
,
K.
,
Yacoub
,
E.
, and
Formisano
,
E.
(
2015
). “
Processing of frequency and location in human subcortical auditory structures
,”
Scientific Reports No. 17048
,
5
pp.
16.
Musicant
,
A. D.
, and
Butler
,
R. A.
(
1985
). “
Influence of monaural spectral cues on binaural localization
,”
J. Acoust. Soc. Am.
77
(
1
),
202
208
.
17.
Oldfield
,
S. R.
, and
Parker
,
S. P.
(
1984
). “
Acuity of sound localisation: A topography of auditory space. I. Normal hearing conditions
,”
Perception
13
(
5
),
581
600
.
18.
Rauschecker
,
J. P.
(
2007
). “
Cortical processing of auditory space: Pathways and plasticity
,” in
Spatial Processing in Navigation, Imagery and Perception
(
Springer
,
New York
), pp.
389
410
.
19.
Rauschecker
,
J. P.
, and
Tian
,
B.
(
2000
). “
Mechanisms and streams for processing of ‘what’ and ‘where’ in auditory cortex
,”
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.
97
(
22
),
11800
11806
.
20.
Sandel
,
T.
,
Teas
,
D.
,
Feddersen
,
W.
, and
Jeffress
,
L.
(
1955
). “
Localization of sound from single and paired sources
,”
J. Acoust. Soc. Am.
27
(
5
),
842
852
.
21.
Stevens
,
S. S.
, and
Newman
,
E. B.
(
1936
). “
The localization of actual sources of sound
,”
Am. J. Psychol.
48
(
2
),
297
306
.
22.
Tabry
,
V.
,
Zatorre
,
R. J.
, and
Voss
,
P.
(
2013
). “
The influence of vision on sound localization abilities in both the horizontal and vertical planes
,”
Front. Psychol.
4
,
932
.
23.
Tian
,
B.
,
Reser
,
D.
,
Durham
,
A.
,
Kustov
,
A.
, and
Rauschecker
,
J. P.
(
2001
). “
Functional specialization in rhesus monkey auditory cortex
,”
Science
292
(
5515
),
290
293
.
24.
Tollin
,
D. J.
,
Ruhland
,
J. L.
, and
Yin
,
T. C.
(
2013
). “
The role of spectral composition of sounds on the localization of sound sources by cats
,”
J. Neurophysiol.
109
(
6
),
1658
1668
.
25.
Van Wanrooij
,
M. M.
, and
Van Opstal
,
A. J.
(
2007
). “
Sound localization under perturbed binaural hearing
,”
J. Neurophysiol.
97
(
1
),
715
726
.
26.
Voss
,
P.
,
Lassonde
,
M.
,
Gougoux
,
F.
,
Fortin
,
M.
,
Guillemot
,
J.-P.
, and
Lepore
,
F.
(
2004
). “
Early-and late-onset blind individuals show supra-normal auditory abilities in far-space
,”
Curr. Biol.
14
(
19
),
1734
1738
.
27.
Voss
,
P.
,
Tabry
,
V.
, and
Zatorre
,
R. J.
(
2015
). “
Trade-off in the sound localization abilities of early blind individuals between the horizontal and vertical planes
,”
J. Neurosci.
35
(
15
),
6051
6056
.
28.
Wallach
,
H.
(
1939
). “
On sound localization
,”
J. Acoust. Soc. Am.
10
(
4
),
270
274
.
You do not currently have access to this content.