Pretty self descriptive, without being able to view the source of the noise how can we tell the difference between a sound in front of us and a sound behind us if pitch, volume and distance are all the same.

Also assume that it is not biased to one side more than the other, e.g its not to your left or right but directly in front or behind.

I'm interested in knowing if it is a part of the ear that makes this distinction, or a function of the brain.


The head-related transfer function. Sound coming from front, and from back differ because of the human body's asymmetry in the vertical direction where the biaural cues such as inter-aural timing and intensity differences are identical. The shape of the ear, and body is necessary for this perception, but eventually, the signal must be analyzed by the brain for localization.

  • $\begingroup$ ah so my confusion stems from the fact that it isn't flawless and can get mixed up between directions if its in 'the cone of confusion' (your second link) $\endgroup$ – user3393 Aug 2 '13 at 21:40

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