N I Durlach

Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, United States

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Publications (82)113.29 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We measured the influence of gravitoinertial force (GIF) magnitude and direction on head-centric auditory localization to determine whether a true audiogravic illusion exists. In experiment 1, supine subjects adjusted computer-generated dichotic stimuli until they heard a fused sound straight ahead in the midsagittal plane of the head under a variety of GIF conditions generated in a slow-rotation room. The dichotic stimuli were constructed by convolving broadband noise with head-related transfer function pairs that model the acoustic filtering at the listener's ears. These stimuli give rise to the perception of externally localized sounds. When the GIF was increased from 1 to 2 g and rotated 60 degrees rightward relative to the head and body, subjects on average set an acoustic stimulus 7.3 degrees right of their head's median plane to hear it as straight ahead. When the GIF was doubled and rotated 60 degrees leftward, subjects set the sound 6.8 degrees leftward of baseline values to hear it as centered. In experiment 2, increasing the GIF in the median plane of the supine body to 2 g did not influence auditory localization. In experiment 3, tilts up to 75 degrees of the supine body relative to the normal 1 g GIF led to small shifts, 1--2 degrees, of auditory setting toward the up ear to maintain a head-centered sound localization. These results show that head-centric auditory localization is affected by azimuthal rotation and increase in magnitude of the GIF and demonstrate that an audiogravic illusion exists. Sound localization is shifted in the direction opposite GIF rotation by an amount related to the magnitude of the GIF and its angular deviation relative to the median plane.
    Journal of Neurophysiology 07/2001; 85(6):2455-60. · 3.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Four response methods for indicating the perceived locations of nearby objects were evaluated: the direct-location (DL) method, where a response pointer is moved directly to the perceived location of the target; the large-head (LH) and small-head (SH) methods, where the pointer is moved to the target location relative to a full-scale or half-scale manikin head; and the verbal report (VR) method, where the spherical coordinates of the target location are indicated verbally. Measurements with a visual target indicated that the DL method was relatively unbiased and considerably more accurate than the other methods, which were all roughly equivalent. Correcting for bias improved accuracy in the LH, SH, and VR responses, but not to the level of the uncorrected DL responses. Replacing the visual target with an acoustic stimulus approximately doubled the errors with the DL response but indicated similar performance in the front and rear hemispheres. The results suggest that DL is the most appropriate response method for close-range localization experiments.
    Perception & Psychophysics 02/2000; 62(1):48-65. · 1.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although many researchers have examined auditory localization for relatively distant sound sources, little is known about the spatial perception of nearby sources. In the region within 1 m of a listener's head, defined as the "proximal region," the interaural level difference increases dramatically as the source approaches the head, while the interaural time delay is roughly independent of distance. An experiment has been performed to evaluate proximal-region localization performance. An auditory point source was moved to a random position within 1 m of the subject's head, and the subject responded by pointing to the perceived location of the sound with an electromagnetic position sensor. The overall angular error (17 degrees) was roughly comparable to previously measured results in distal-region experiments. Azimuth error increased slightly as the sound source approached the head, but elevation performance was essentially independent of source distance. Distance localization performance was generally better than has been reported in distal-region experiments and was strongly dependent on azimuth, with the stimulus-response correlation ranging from 0.85 to the side of the head to less than 0.4 in the median plane. The results suggest that the enlarged binaural difference cues found in the head-related transfer function (HRTF) for nearby sources are important to auditory distance perception in the proximal region.
    The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 11/1999; 106(4 Pt 1):1956-68. · 1.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this work, the tactual information transmission capabilities of a tactual display designed to provide stimulation along a continuum from kinesthetic movements to cutaneous vibrations are assessed. The display is capable of delivering arbitrary waveforms to three digits (thumb, index, and middle finger) within an amplitude range from absolute detection threshold to about 50 dB sensation level and a frequency range from dc to above 300 Hz. Stimulus sets were designed at each of three signal durations (125, 250, and 500 msec) by combining salient attributes, such as frequency (further divided into low, middle, and high regions), amplitude, direction of motion, and finger location. Estimated static information transfer (IT) was 6.5 bits at 500 msec, 6.4 bits at 250 msec, and 5.6 bits at 125 msec. Estimates of IT rate were derived from identification experiments in which the subject's task was to identify the middle stimulus in a sequence of three stimuli randomly selected from a given stimulus set. On the basis of the extrapolations from these IT measurements to continuous streams, the IT rate was estimated to be about 12 bits/sec, which is roughly the same as that achieved by Tadoma users in tactual speech communication.
    Perception & Psychophysics 09/1999; 61(6):993-1008. · 1.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A series of experiments was performed in which subjects were trained to interpret auditory localization cues arising from locations different from their normal spatial positions. The exact pattern of mean response to these alterations (as a function of time) was examined in order to begin to develop a quantitative model of adaptation. Mean responses were roughly proportional to the normal position associated with the localization cues presented. As subjects adapted, the best-fit slope (relating mean response and normal position) changed roughly exponentially with time. The exponential rate and adaptation asymptote were found for each subject in each experiment, as well as the rate and asymptote of readaptation to normal cues. The rate of adaptation does not show any statistical dependence on experimental conditions; however, the asymptote of the best-fit slope varied with the strength of the transformation used in each experiment. This result is consistent with the hypothesis that subjects cannot adapt to a nonlinear transformation of auditory localization cues, but instead adapt to a linear approximation of the transformation. Over time, performance changes exponentially towards the best-fit linear approximation for the transformation used in a particular experiment, and the rate of this adaptation does not depend upon the transformation employed.
    The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 07/1998; 103(6):3667-76. · 1.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Head-related transfer functions (HRTFs) were used to create spatialized stimuli for presentation through earphones. Subjects performed forced-choice, identification tests during which allowed response directions were indicated visually. In each experimental session, subjects were first presented with auditory stimuli in which the stimulus HRTFs corresponded to the allowed response directions. The correspondence between the HRTFs used to generate the stimuli and the directions was then changed so that response directions no longer corresponded to the HRTFs in the natural way. Feedback was used to train subjects as to which spatial cues corresponded to which of the allowed responses. Finally, the normal correspondence between direction and HRTFs was reinstated. This basic experimental paradigm was used to explore the effects of the type of feedback provided, the complexity of the stimulated acoustic scene, the number of allowed response positions, and the magnitude of the HRTF transformation subjects had to learn. Data showed that (1) although subjects may not adapt completely to a new relationship between physical stimuli and direction, response bias decreases substantially with training, and (2) the ability to resolve different HRTFs depends both on the stimuli presented and on the state of adaptation of the subject.
    The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 07/1998; 103(6):3656-66. · 1.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The potential for communication through the kinesthetic aspect of the tactual sense was examined in a series of experiments employing Morse code signals. Experienced and inexperienced Morse code operators were trained to identify Morse code signals that were delivered as sequences of motional stimulation through up-down displacements (roughly 10 mm) of the fingertip. Performance on this task was compared with that obtained for both vibrotactile and acoustic presentation of Morse code using a 200-Hz tone delivered either to the fingertip through a minishaker or diotically to the two ears under headphones. For all three modalities, the ability to receive Morse code was examined as a function of presentation rate for tasks including identification of single letters, random three-letter sequences, common words, and sentences. Equivalent word-rate measures (i.e., product of percent correct scores and stimulus presentation rate) were nearly twice as high for auditory presentation as for vibrotactile stimulation, which in turn was about 1.3 times that for motional stimulation. The experienced subjects outperformed the inexperienced subjects by amounts that increased with task complexity. For example, the former were able to receive sentences at 18 words/min with motional stimulation, whereas the latter, following 75 h of training, were unable to perform this task. The present results and those of other research with tactual communication systems are compared, particularly regarding estimates of information-transfer rates.
    Perception & Psychophysics 11/1997; 59(7):1004-17. · 1.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Motivated by the highly successful Tadoma method of speech communication, a multi-finger positional display (the TACTUATOR) was developed to study perception via the kinesthetic and vibrotactile aspects of the tactual sensory system of the hand. The information transmission capabilities with the TACTUATOR were assessed through a series of absolute identification experiments. An information transfer (IT) of 5.6 to 6.5 bits for stimulus durations of 125 to 500 msec was obtained in absolute-identification experiments with sets of signals derived by varying frequency, amplitude, and site of stimulation of multicomponent waveforms. An estimated IT rate of 12 bits/sec was obtained by sequencing three random stimuli and (a) having the subject identify only the middle stimulus and (b) extrapolating this IT to that for continuous streams. This IT rate is roughly the same as that achieved by Tadoma users in tactual speech communication.
    Scandinavian audiology. Supplementum 02/1997; 47:24-8.
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    ABSTRACT: The contribution of reduced speaking rate to the intelligibility of "clear" speech (Picheny, Durlach, & Braida, 1985) was evaluated by adjusting the durations of speech segments (a) via nonuniform signal time-scaling, (b) by deleting and inserting pauses, and (c) by eliciting materials from a professional speaker at a wide range of speaking rates. Key words in clearly spoken nonsense sentences were substantially more intelligible than those spoken conversationally (15 points) when presented in quiet for listeners with sensorineural impairments and when presented in a noise background to listeners with normal hearing. Repeated presentation of conversational materials also improved scores (6 points). However, degradations introduced by segment-by-segment time-scaling rendered this time-scaling technique problematic as a means of converting speaking styles. Scores for key words excised from these materials and presented in isolation generally exhibited the same trends as in sentence contexts. Manipulation of pause structure reduced scores both when additional pauses were introduced into conversational sentences and when pauses were deleted from clear sentences. Key-word scores for materials produced by a professional talker were inversely correlated with speaking rate, but conversational rate scores did not approach those of clear speech for other talkers. In all experiments, listeners with normal hearing exposed to flat-spectrum background noise performed similarly to listeners with hearing loss.
    Journal of speech and hearing research 06/1996; 39(3):494-509.
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    ABSTRACT: This paper concerns the extent to which the precedence effect is observed when leading and lagging sounds occupy different spectral regions. Subjects, listening under headphones, were asked to match the intracranial lateral position of an acoustic pointer to that of a test stimulus composed of two binaural noise bursts with asynchronous onsets, parametrically varied frequency content, and different interaural delays. The precedence effect was measured by the degree to which the interaural delay of the matching pointer was independent of the interaural delay of the lagging noise burst in the test stimulus. The results, like those of Blauert and Divenyi [Acustica 66, 267-274 (1988)], show an asymmetric frequency effect in which the lateralization influence of a lagging high-frequency burst is almost completely suppressed by a leading low-frequency burst, whereas a lagging low-frequency burst is weighted equally with a leading high-frequency burst. This asymmetry is shown to be the result of an inherent low-frequency dominance that is seen even with simultaneous bursts. When this dominance is removed (by attenuating the low-frequency burst) the precedence effect operates with roughly equal strength both upward and downward in frequency. Within the scope of the current study (with lateralization achieved through the use of interaural time differences alone, stimuli from only two frequency bands, and only three subjects performing in all experiments), these results suggest that the precedence effect arises from a fairly central processing stage in which information is combined across frequency.
    The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 08/1995; 98(1):164-71. · 1.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In these experiments, two plates were grasped between the thumb and the index finger and squeezed together along a linear track. The force resisting the squeeze, produced by an electromechanical system under computer control, was programmed to be either constant (in the case of the force discrimination experiments) or linearly increasing (in the case of the compliance discrimination experiments) over the squeezing displacement. After completing a set of basic psychophysical experiments on compliance resolution (Experiment 1), we performed further experiments to investigate whether work and/or terminal-force cues played a role in compliance discrimination. In Experiment 2, compliance and force discrimination experiments were conducted with a roving-displacement paradigm to dissociate work cues (and terminal-force cues for the compliance experiments) from compliance and force cues, respectively. The effect of trial-by-trial feedback on response strategy was also investigated. In Experiment 3, compliance discrimination experiments were conducted with work cues totally eliminated and terminal-force cues greatly reduced. Our results suggest that people tend to use mechanical work and force cues for compliance discrimination. When work and terminal-force cues were dissociated from compliance cues, compliance resolution was poor (22%) relative to force and length resolution. When work cues were totally eliminated, performance could be predicted from terminal-force cues. A parsimonious description of all data from the compliance experiments is that subjects discriminated compliance on the basis of terminal force.
    Perception & Psychophysics 06/1995; 57(4):495-510. · 1.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: One of the natural methods of tactual communication in common use among individuals who are both deaf and blind is the tactual reception of sign language. In this method, the receiver (who is deaf-blind) places a hand (or hands) on the dominant (or both) hand(s) of the signer in order to receive, through the tactual sense, the various formational properties associated with signs. In the study reported here, 10 experienced deaf-blind users of either American Sign Language (ASL) or Pidgin Sign English (PSE) participated in experiments to determine their ability to receive signed materials including isolated signs and sentences. A set of 122 isolated signs was received with an average accuracy of 87% correct. The most frequent type of error made in identifying isolated signs was related to misperception of individual phonological components of signs. For presentation of signed sentences (translations of the English CID sentences into ASL or PSE), the performance of individual subjects ranged from 60-85% correct reception of key signs. Performance on sentences was relatively independent of rate of presentation in signs/sec, which covered a range of roughly 1 to 3 signs/sec. Sentence errors were accounted for primarily by deletions and phonological and semantic/syntactic substitutions. Experimental results are discussed in terms of differences in performance for isolated signs and sentences, differences in error patterns for the ASL and PSE groups, and communication rates relative to visual reception of sign language and other natural methods of tactual communication.
    Journal of speech and hearing research 05/1995; 38(2):477-89.
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    ABSTRACT: Although great strides have been made in the development of automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems, the communication performance achievable with the output of current real-time speech recognition systems would be extremely poor relative to normal speech reception. An alternate application of ASR technology to aid the hearing impaired would derive cues from the acoustical speech signal that could be used to supplement speechreading. We report a study of highly trained receivers of Manual Cued Speech that indicates that nearly perfect reception of everyday connected speech materials can be achieved at near normal speaking rates. To understand the accuracy that might be achieved with automatically generated cues, we measured how well trained spectrogram readers and an automatic speech recognizer could assign cues for various cue systems. We then applied a recently developed model of audiovisual integration to these recognizer measurements and data on human recognition of consonant and vowel segments via speechreading to evaluate the benefit to speechreading provided by such cues. Our analysis suggests that with cues derived from current recognizers, consonant and vowel segments can be received with accuracies in excess of 80%. This level of performance is roughly equivalent to the segment reception accuracy required to account for observed levels of Manual Cued Speech reception. Current recognizers provide maximal benefit by generating only a relatively small number (three to five) of cue groups, and may not provide substantially greater aid to speechreading than simpler aids that do not incorporate discrete phonetic recognition. To provide guidance for the development of improved automatic cueing systems, we describe techniques for determining optimum cue groups for a given recognizer and speechreader, and estimate the cueing performance that might be achieved if the performance of current recognizers were improved.
    The Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development 02/1994; 31(1):20-41. · 1.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Intensity discrimination of pulsed tones (also called level discrimination) was measured as a function of level in 13 listeners with sensorineural hearing impairment of primarily cochlear origin, one listener with a vestibular schwannoma, and six listeners with normal hearing. Measurements were also made in normal ears presented with masking noise spectrally shaped to produce audiograms similar to those of the cochlearly impaired listeners. For unilateral impairments, tests were made at the same frequency in the normal and impaired ears. For bilateral-sloping impairments, tests were made at different frequencies in the same ear. The normal listeners showed results similar to other data in the literature. The listener with a vestibular schwannoma showed greatly reduced intensity resolution, except at a few levels. For listeners with recruiting sensorineural impairments, the results are discussed according to the configuration of the impairment and are compared across configurations at equal SPL, equal SL, and equal loudness level. Listeners with increasing hearing losses at frequencies above the test frequency generally showed impaired resolution, especially at high levels, and less deviation from Weber's law than normal listeners. Listeners with decreasing hearing loss at frequencies above the test frequency showed nearly normal intensity-resolution functions. Whereas these trends are generally present, there are also large differences among individuals. Results obtained from normal listeners who were tested in the presence of masking noise indicate that elevated thresholds and reduced dynamic range account for some, but not all, of the effects of recruiting sensorineural impairment on intensity resolution.
    The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 12/1993; 94(5):2575-86. · 1.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A simple model to summarize the precedence effect is proposed that uses a single metric to quantify the relative dominance of the initial interaural delay over the trailing interaural delay in lateralization. This model is described and then used to relate new measurements of the precedence effect made with adjustment and discrimination paradigms. In the adjustment task, subjects matched the lateral position of an acoustic pointer to the position of a composite test stimulus made up of initial and trailing binaural noise bursts. In the discrimination procedure, subjects discriminated interaural time differences in a target noise burst in the presence of another burst either trailing or preceding the target. Experimental parameters were the delay between initial and trailing stimuli and the overall level of the stimulus. The model parameters (the metric c and the variability of lateral position judgments) were estimated from the results of the matching experiment and used to predict results of the discrimination task with good success. Finally, the observed values of the metric were compared to values derived from previous studies.
    The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 06/1993; 93(5):2923-32. · 1.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this series of papers, we consider human auditory localization and how its deficiencies can be reduced by appropriate processing and coding of acoustical signals in teleoperator and virtual-environment systems. Attention is given to how localization cues can be altered to improve the just-noticeable-difference (JND) in spatial position and to phenomena related to the use of such altered localization cues for the identification of spatial position. Unlike most current studies of synthetic auditory localization, our study includes consideration of distance as well as direction. In this first paper of the series, we provide general background material. In subsequent papers, we will present a variety of empirical results.
    Presence Teleoperators &amp Virtual Environments 02/1993; 2(2):89-103. · 0.91 Impact Factor
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    Richard Held, Nathaniel Durlach
    Pictorial communication in virtual and real environments (2nd ed.); 01/1993
  • Journal of The Acoustical Society of America - J ACOUST SOC AMER. 01/1993; 94(5):2575-2586.
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    ABSTRACT: Although results obtained with the Tadoma method of speechreading have set a new standard for tactual speech communication, they are nevertheless inferior to those obtained in the normal auditory domain. Speech reception through Tadoma is comparable to that of normal-hearing subjects listening to speech under adverse conditions corresponding to a speech-to-noise ratio of roughly 0 dB. The goal of the current study was to demonstrate improvements to speech reception through Tadoma through the use of supplementary tactual information, thus leading to a new standard of performance in the tactual domain. Three supplementary tactual displays were investigated: (a) an articulatory-based display of tongue contact with the hard palate; (b) a multichannel display of the short-term speech spectrum; and (c) tactual reception of Cued Speech. The ability of laboratory-trained subjects to discriminate pairs of speech segments that are highly confused through Tadoma was studied for each of these augmental displays. Generally, discrimination tests were conducted for Tadoma alone, the supplementary display alone, and Tadoma combined with the supplementary tactual display. The results indicated that the tongue-palate contact display was an effective supplement to Tadoma for improving discrimination of consonants, but that neither the tongue-palate contact display nor the short-term spectral display was highly effective in improving vowel discriminability. For both vowel and consonant stimulus pairs, discriminability was nearly perfect for the tactual reception of the manual cues associated with Cued Speech. Further experiments on the identification of speech segments were conducted for Tadoma combined with Cued Speech. The observed data for both discrimination and identification experiments are compared with the predictions of models of integration of information from separate sources.
    Journal of speech and hearing research 05/1992; 35(2):450-65.
  • Presence. 01/1992; 1:251-257.

Publication Stats

2k Citations
113.29 Total Impact Points


  • 2001
    • Brandeis University
      Waltham, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1981–2000
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      • Research Laboratory of Electronics
      Cambridge, MA, United States
  • 1993
    • Boston University
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1989
    • IBM
      Armonk, New York, United States
    • University of Massachusetts Boston
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1983
    • Georgia Institute of Technology
      Atlanta, Georgia, United States