Compression of auditory space during forward self-motion

Wataru Teramoto, Shuichi Sakamoto, Fumimasa Furune, Jiro Gyoba, Yôiti Suzuki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Spatial inputs from the auditory periphery can be changed with movements of the head or whole body relative to the sound source. Nevertheless, humans can perceive a stable auditory environment and appropriately react to a sound source. This suggests that the inputs are reinterpreted in the brain, while being integrated with information on the movements. Little is known, however, about how these movements modulate auditory perceptual processing. Here, we investigate the effect of the linear acceleration on auditory space representation. Methodology/Principal Findings: Participants were passively transported forward/backward at constant accelerations using a robotic wheelchair. An array of loudspeakers was aligned parallel to the motion direction along a wall to the right of the listener. A short noise burst was presented during the self-motion from one of the loudspeakers when the listener's physical coronal plane reached the location of one of the speakers (null point). In Experiments 1 and 2, the participants indicated which direction the sound was presented, forward or backward relative to their subjective coronal plane. The results showed that the sound position aligned with the subjective coronal plane was displaced ahead of the null point only during forward self-motion and that the magnitude of the displacement increased with increasing the acceleration. Experiment 3 investigated the structure of the auditory space in the traveling direction during forward self-motion. The sounds were presented at various distances from the null point. The participants indicated the perceived sound location by pointing a rod. All the sounds that were actually located in the traveling direction were perceived as being biased towards the null point. Conclusions/Significance: These results suggest a distortion of the auditory space in the direction of movement during forward self-motion. The underlying mechanism might involve anticipatory spatial shifts in the auditory receptive field locations driven by afferent signals from vestibular system.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere39402
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jun 29


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