Development of Binaural and Spatial Hearing
When a person hears sounds in the environment, there are several important tasks that the auditory system must accomplish, such as determining the location of sound sources and the meaning of those sources. These tasks are relevant to children who spend time every day in noisy environments, such as classrooms, and adults who have to operate in complex auditory environments. The auditory mechanisms that enable listeners to accomplish these tasks are generally thought to involve binaural processing. Acoustic information arriving at the two ears is compared at the level of the brain stem, combined and transmitted to the central auditory system for further analysis. As discussed in the text that follows, in listeners with hearing loss these mechanisms may be compromised or not fully developed.
KeywordsSound Localization Interaural Time Difference Interaural Level Difference Spatial Hearing Informational Masking
The author is very grateful to students, postdoctoral fellows, and collaborators whose participation in the cited studies was important to the success of this chapter. They include Shelly Godar, Tina Grieco-Calub, Patti Johnstone, Soha Garadat, Smita Agrawal, Lynne Werner, and Jenny Saffran. The author received support for her work from the National Institutes of Health (R01 DC 003083 and 5R01 DC 008365).
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