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Re: Implicit human echolocation

Perhaps a more ethical study would involve using virtual sound techniques, i.e one could make KEMAR recordings at various distances from an obstructing wall and present these to listeners via headphones. Then you could also devise various tasks, i.e. ask for explicit distance estimates, or discrimination between between multiple alternatives, etc. In this way you might also work on figuring out the mechanism (assuming people _can_ do this task, to some extent) by manipulating the presented signals (i.e. more or less echoes, introducing spectral notches etc).


Erik Larsen, Ph.D. candidate
Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology
Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology
Cambridge MA 02139

Peter Lennox wrote:
I think this is quite important. Of course, there are degrees of echolocation, and it might be that the scale of echolocation vaires between blind and sighted, so that, in most contexts, sighted tend to use it less. how you would test that would be interesting...

Dr. Peter Lennox
Signal Processing Applications Research Group
University of Derby
http://sparg.derby.ac.uk Int. tel: 3155
"Bruno L. Giordano" <bruno.giordano@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 05/30/07 2:31 PM >>>

I have a general knowledge of the literature on human echolocation: sighted-blindfolded listeners are capable of locating nearby surfaces from the reflections of self-generated sounds, when they are instructed to do so.

However, does echolocation persist in absence of explicit instructions?

An improbable single-trial experiment could address this question: blindfolded participants are asked to walk along a path, as long as they wish. They wouldn't be informed that a wall is obstructing the path. Unfortunately, the number of injuries would measure implicit echolocation abilities.

Is anybody aware of related, more ethical studies?

Thank you,


Bruno L. Giordano, Ph.D.
Music Perception and Cognition Laboratory
CIRMMT http://www.cirmmt.mcgill.ca/
Schulich School of Music, McGill University
555 Sherbrooke Street West
MontrÃal, QC H3A 1E3
Office: +1 514 398 4535 ext. 00900

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-- Erik Larsen PhD candidate Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology http://web.mit.edu/shbt

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