We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Human Echolocators Have Better Localization Off Axis

Thaler, Lore and Norman, L. J. and De Vos, H. P. J. C. and Kish, D. and Antoniou, M. and Baker, C. J. and Hornikx, M. C. J. (2022) 'Human Echolocators Have Better Localization Off Axis.', Psychological Science, 33 (7). pp. 1143-1153.


Here, we report novel empirical results from a psychophysical experiment in which we tested the echolocation abilities of nine blind adult human experts in click-based echolocation. We found that they had better acuity in localizing a target and used lower intensity emissions (i.e., mouth clicks) when a target was placed 45° off to the side compared with when it was placed at 0° (straight ahead). We provide a possible explanation of the behavioral result in terms of binaural-intensity signals, which appear to change more rapidly around 45°. The finding that echolocators have better echo-localization off axis is surprising, because for human source localization (i.e., regular spatial hearing), it is well known that performance is best when targets are straight ahead (0°) and decreases as targets move farther to the side. This may suggest that human echolocation and source hearing rely on different acoustic cues and that human spatial hearing has more facets than previously thought.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:25 July 2022
Date of first online publication:14 June 2022
Date first made open access:25 July 2022

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar