Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

'Make like a bat': Study finds high frequencies help us find objects using echoes

11.05.2015

The ability that some people have to use echoes to determine the position of an otherwise silent object, in a similar way to bats and dolphins, requires good high-pitch hearing in both ears, according to new research from the University of Southampton.

The study, published in Hearing Research, found that locating an object by listening to echoes, without moving the head, requires good hearing at high frequencies and in both ears.


The image shows a reproduction of the experiment conducted in the ISVR's anechoic chamber.

Credit: University of Southampton

This builds on research published in 2013 by the team at the University's Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) that demonstrated conclusively that some sighted and blind people could use echoes in this way. What wasn't clear until now was how important high-frequency hearing in both ears is.

Dr Daniel Rowan, lead author of the study, says: "We know that hearing echoes is very important in daily life for some blind people. Hearing loss, such as associated with getting older, usually reduces hearing at high frequencies in both ears. Some people can develop deafness in one ear. We wanted to get some insight into how much those particular forms of hearing loss might affect users of echoes to locate objects: our results suggest they would struggle."

The researchers conducted a series of experiments with both sighted and blind people. In their most recent experiment, sighted people were asked if an object (in this case a flat MDF board) was to the left or right of them.

The experiment used a 'virtual auditory space' technique originally created in ISVR's anechoic chamber, one of the quietest places on Earth, but reproduced for the participants over special earphones. This method allowed the researchers to remove audio and non-audio clues to the location of the object that are unrelated to echoes, such as the sounds and air movement associated with positioning the object.

Sounds were manipulated in various ways, simulating high-frequency hearing loss and single-sided deafness, as well as to check carefully that people were not finding cunning ways to use the echoes with one ear. People could locate the object accurately but only if they had good high-frequency hearing and in both ears.

Dr Rowan adds: "Hearing aid services tend to focus on how well a person can hear speech. Our research indicates that those services also need to take into account whether someone needs to hear echoes in their daily life. For example, they might need hearing aids in both ears, despite the emerging trend in some parts of the country to only fit one."

This work is currently being extended to detecting objects and using head movement to improve the localisation of objects. Initial results suggest a similar conclusion. A web-app will be launched later in the year for the public to try out the team's experiments themselves and see if they can 'make like a bat' too.

Media Contact

Glenn Harris
G.Harris@soton.ac.uk
44-023-805-93212

 @unisouthampton

http://www.southampton.ac.uk/ 

Glenn Harris | EurekAlert!

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>