Natural ITD statistics predict human auditory spatial perception

Rodrigo Pavão, Elyse S. Sussman, Brian J. Fischer, José L. Peña

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


A neural code adapted to the statistical structure of sensory cues may optimize perception. We investigated whether interaural time difference (ITD) statistics inherent in natural acoustic scenes are parameters determining spatial discriminability. The natural ITD rate of change across azimuth (ITDrc) and ITD variability over time (ITDv) were combined in a Fisher information statistic to assess the amount of azimuthal information conveyed by this sensory cue. We hypothesized that natural ITD statistics underlie the neural code for ITD and thus influence spatial perception. To test this hypothesis, sounds with invariant statistics were presented to measure human spatial discriminability and spatial novelty detection. Human auditory spatial perception showed correlation with natural ITD statistics, supporting our hypothesis. Further analysis showed that these results are consistent with classic models of ITD coding and can explain the ITD tuning distribution observed in the mammalian brainstem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere51927
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Binaural cues
  • Cochlear filtering
  • HRTF
  • MMN
  • Predictive coding
  • Sensory reliability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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