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Auditory localisation biases increase with sensory uncertainty.

Garcia, S.E. and Jones, P.R. and Rubin, G.S. and Nardini, M. (2017) 'Auditory localisation biases increase with sensory uncertainty.', Scientific reports., 7 . p. 40567.


Psychophysical studies have frequently found that adults with normal hearing exhibit systematic errors (biases) in their auditory localisation judgments. Here we tested (i) whether systematic localisation errors could reflect reliance on prior knowledge, as has been proposed for other systematic perceptual biases, and (ii) whether auditory localisation biases can be reduced following training with accurate visual feedback. Twenty-four normal hearing participants were asked to localise the position of a noise burst along the azimuth before, during, and after training with visual feedback. Consistent with reliance on prior knowledge to reduce sensory uncertainty, we found that auditory localisation biases increased when auditory localisation uncertainty increased. Specifically, participants mis-localised auditory stimuli as being more eccentric than they were, and did so more when auditory uncertainty was greater. However, biases also increased with eccentricity, despite no corresponding increase in uncertainty, which is not readily explained by use of a simple prior favouring peripheral locations. Localisation biases decreased (improved) following training with visual feedback, but the reliability of the visual feedback stimulus did not change the effects of training. We suggest that further research is needed to identify alternative mechanisms, besides use of prior knowledge, that could account for increased perceptual biases under sensory uncertainty.

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Publisher statement:This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit
Date accepted:08 December 2016
Date deposited:12 January 2017
Date of first online publication:11 January 2017
Date first made open access:12 January 2017

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