Perceptual constancy in auditory perception of distance to railway tracks
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Distance to a sound source can be accurately estimated solely from auditory information. With a sound source such as a train that is passing by at a relatively large distance, the most important auditory information for the listener for estimating its distance consists of the intensity of the sound, spectral changes in the sound caused by air absorption, and the motion-induced rate of change of intensity. However, these cues are relative because prior information/experience of the sound source-its source power, its spectrum and the typical speed at which it moves-is required for such distance estimates. This paper describes two listening experiments that allow investigation of further prior contextual information taken into account by listeners-viz., whether they are indoors or outdoors. Asked to estimate the distance to the track of a railway, it is shown that listeners assessing sounds heard inside the dwelling based their distance estimates on the expected train passby sound level outdoors rather than on the passby sound level actually experienced indoors. This form of perceptual constancy may have consequences for the assessment of annoyance caused by railway noise.
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
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