Situational awareness: The effect of stimulus type and hearing protection on sound localization

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The purpose of the current study was to test sound localization of a spoken word, rarely studied in the context of localization, compared to pink noise and a gunshot, while taking into ac-count the source position and the effect of different hearing protection devices (HPDs) used by the listener. Ninety participants were divided into three groups using different HPDs. Participants were tested twice, under with-and no-HPD conditions, and were requested to localize the different stimuli that were delivered from one of eight speakers evenly distributed around them (starting from 22.5°). Localization of the word stimulus was more difficult than that of the other stimuli. HPD usage resulted in a larger mean root-mean-square error (RMSE) and increased mirror image reversal errors for all stimuli. In addition, HPD usage increased the mean RMSE and mirror image reversal errors for stimuli delivered from the front and back, more than for stimuli delivered from the left and right. HPDs affect localization, both due to attenuation and to limitation of pinnae cues when using earmuffs. Difficulty localizing the spoken word should be considered when assessing auditory functionality and should be further investigated to include HPDs with different attenuation spectra and levels, and to further types of speech stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7044
Issue number21
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • Localization
  • Mirror image reversal errors
  • Speech


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