Spectrotemporal window of binaural integration in auditory object formation

I. Hui Hsieh, Jia Wei Liu, Zeng Jie Liang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Binaural integration of interaural temporal information is essential for sound source localization and segregation. Current models of binaural interaction have shown that accurate sound localization in the horizontal plane depends on the resolution of phase ambiguous information by across-frequency integration. However, as such models are mostly static, it is not clear how proximate in time binaural events in different frequency channels should occur to form an auditory object with a unique lateral position. The present study examined the spectrotemporal window required for effective integration of binaural cues across frequency to form the perception of a stationary position. In Experiment 1, listeners judged whether dichotic frequency-modulated (FM) sweeps with a constant large nominal interaural delay (1500 μs), whose perceived laterality was ambiguous depending on the sweep rate (1500, 3000, 6000, and 12,000 Hz/s), produced a percept of continuous motion or a stationary image. Motion detection performance, indexed by d-prime (d') values, showed a clear effect of sweep rate, with auditory motion effects most pronounced for low sweep rates, and a punctate stationary image at high rates. Experiment 2 examined the effect of modulation rate (0.5, 3, 20, and 50 Hz) on lateralizing sinusoidally frequency-modulated (SFM) tones to confirm the effect of sweep rate on motion detection, independent of signal duration. Lateralization accuracy increased with increasing modulation rate up to 20 Hz and saturated at 50 Hz, with poorest performance occurring below 3 Hz depending on modulator phase. Using the transition point where percepts changed from motion to stationary images, we estimated a spectrotemporal integration window of approximately 150 ms per octave required for effective integration of interaural temporal cues across frequency channels. A Monte Carlo simulation based on a cross-correlation model of binaural interaction predicted 90% of the variance on perceptual motion detection performance as a function of FM sweep rate. Findings suggest that the rate of frequency channel convergence of binaural cues is essential to binaural lateralization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-167
Number of pages13
JournalHearing Research
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • 2IFC
  • Across-frequency integration
  • AM
  • Amplitude-modulated
  • Auditory localization
  • Binaural integration
  • Cross-correlation model
  • Equivalent rectangular bandwidth
  • ERB
  • FM
  • Frequency-modulated
  • IC
  • Inferior colliculus
  • Interaural time delay
  • Interaural time delay/interaural delay
  • ITD
  • Phase ambiguity
  • Residual sum of squares
  • RSS
  • Sinusoidally frequency-modulated
  • Spectrotemporal integration window
  • Two-interval forced-choice SFM
  • Weighted-image model


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