Do audio-visual motion cues promote segregation of auditory streams?
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An audio-visual experiment using moving sound sources was designed to investigate whether the analysis of auditory scenes is modulated by synchronous presentation of visual information. Listeners were presented with an alternating sequence of two pure tones delivered by two separate sound sources. In different conditions, the two sound sources were either stationary or moving on random trajectories around the listener. Both the sounds and the movement trajectories were derived from recordings in which two humans were moving with loudspeakers attached to their heads. Visualized movement trajectories modeled by a computer animation were presented together with the sounds. In the main experiment, behavioral reports on sound organization were collected from young healthy volunteers. The proportion and stability of the different sound organizations were compared between the conditions in which the visualized trajectories matched the movement of the sound sources and when the two were independent of each other. The results corroborate earlier findings that separation of sound sources in space promotes segregation. However, no additional effect of auditory movement per se on the perceptual organization of sounds was obtained. Surprisingly, the presentation of movement-congruent visual cues did not strengthen the effects of spatial separation on segregating auditory streams. Our findings are consistent with the view that bistability in the auditory modality can occur independently from other modalities.
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