Pinna-based spectral cues for sound localization in cat

John J. Rice, Bradford J. May, George A. Spirou, Eric D. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

197 Scopus citations


The directional dependence of the transfer function from free field plane waves to a point near the tympanic membrane (TM) was measured in anesthetized domestic cats. A probe tube microphone was placed ≈ 3 mm from the TM from beneath the head in order to keep the pinna intact. Transfer functions were computed as the ratio of the spectrum of a click recorded near the TM to the spectrum of the click in freefield. We analyze the transfer functions in three frequency ranges: low frequencies (< 5 kHz) where the interaural level differences vary smoothly with azimuth; midfrequencies (5-18 kHz) where a prominent spectral notch is observed; and high frequencies (> 18 kHz) where the transfer functions vary greatly with source location. Because no two source directions produce the same transfer function, the spectrum of a broadband sound at the TM could serve as a sound localization cue for both elevation and azimuth. In particular, we show that source direction is uniquely determined, for source directions in front of the cat, from the frequencies of the midfrequency spectral notches in the two ears. The validity of the transfer functions as measures of the acoustic input to the auditory system is considered in terms of models of sound propagation in the ear canal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-152
Number of pages21
JournalHearing Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1992


  • Cat
  • Monaural spectral cues
  • Pinna
  • Sound localization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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