Pursuit auditory tracking of a fused auditory image (FAI), based on stimulus conditions known to elicit the precedence effect phenomenon in sound localization, was investigated in 36 normal subjects and in a small group of subjects with known neuropathology. Movement of the FAI was simulated by incrementally varying the delay between two clicks presented, one each, from two loudspeakers placed on opposite sides of the listener. The group of normal listeners tracked the movement of the FAI without difficulty and with great accuracy; the perceived location of the FAI varied linearly with the interspeaker delay. The sensitivity of the task in detecting neural timing or integration deficits was investigated in 5 subjects with neuropathology, including subjects with unilateral temporal lobe lesions, multiple sclerosis, or dyslexia. These disorders, previously shown to disrupt neural timing, yielded characteristic patterns of tracking inaccuracy for this task. These subjects had no difficulty localizing either a moving unitary click source or sounds in daily life. These data support the suggestion that sound localization using stimulus conditions known to elicit the precedence effect places greater demands on neural timing and integration than conventional tests of localization, and may provide a more sensitive index of neural function.
Current affiliation: Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Center, University of Pittsburgh.
KEY WORDS: hearing, localization, temporal integration, tracking, precedence
Submitted on April 17, 1989
Accepted on September 11, 1989