You could also look at John's work on "the doppler illusion" - which could be viewed as a 'perceptual exaggeration' of a physical cue, and seems related to 'looming'.
But here you have an interesting point - the idea of innate response to 'a sound' (i.e. the particular signal content') and the innate (possibly) response to an auditory stimulus that includes an important spatial component (in this case 'looming' or what I call 'comingness' - but one might make a similar argument for 'passing', departing', 'near' etc)
so it's back to the drawing board - do you mean innate response to sounds, or particular features?
Dr. Peter Lennox
Signal Processing Applications Research Group
University of Derby
Int. tel: 3155
Thanks for the responses, the best I have come across so far is John
Neuhoff's paper 'An Adaptive Bias in the Perception of Looming Auditory
Motion" (thanks Camille for forwarding my question to John). It outlines
experiments in which listeners overestimated the loudness of approaching
sounds and underestimated the distance but not for receding sounds
(decrease in volume or increase in distance). He argues that this is an
adapted bias toward approaching sounds providing an early warning to
I wonder if this overestimation of loudness would be more likely in sounds
approaching listeners from behind (where response time may be more urgent
A few replies have hinted on enquiring along these lines.
Bruno Giordano noted that later development in the visual system leads to a
wider focus of all available sensory information the result being that (at
least in vision) a miss is worse than a false alarm. John Neuhoff's paper
suggests that there is some overshooting of auditory perception of loudness
but its unclear if this changes during a person's development.
David Mountain suggested looking into rhythm, although I was referring to
timbre in my question, it had never dawned on me that rhythm must also play
an important role in identifying approaching sounds. Its much like how I can
tell which of my family members are walking up the stairs based on their
characteristic rhythm. I will look into this.
Thanks again for all your help.