MadSci Network: Other

Re: How can you tell where sound comes from whem your blindfolded?

Date: Wed Apr 12 23:49:20 2000
Posted By: Paulette Caswell, Grad student Education, etc., AMICUS, Inc. Ed. Svcs.
Area of science: Other
ID: 955124676.Ot

Human beings, like most vertebrate animals, have two ears, one on each side of 
their heads.  The reason that you have two ears is that each ear picks up and 
processes sounds.  If a sound is closer to one of your ears, it is louder.  If a 
sound is farther away, it is softer. 

So, let's imagine that a car is coming toward you, from your right side.  Both 
of your ears hear the car sound, but the car sound is louder in your right ear. 
Your brain will get two different sound levels of the "car sound."  Then your 
brain will compare the sound levels from each ear.  Your brain will then 
think... "Oh, the sound of that same car is louder in the right ear, so the car 
is on my right side."  

If the car is coming toward you, the car sound will get louder, and if the car 
is going away from you, then the car sound will get softer.  

So, your brain continues to listen to the sounds from each ear.  As the car 
comes nearer to you, your brain thinks... "I hear the sound louder in the right 
ear, and the sound is getting more and more loud in the right ear... therefore, 
the car is on my right side, and it is coming towards me."  

Then, as the car passes in front of you, your brain continues to listen, and 
your brain thinks... "Now the sounds in both ears are the same level, so the car 
must be right in front of me."  

And, finally, your brain continues to listen as the car moves to your left and 
goes away from you, always comparing the sounds you are getting from your two 
ears.  Your brain then thinks... "Oh, now I hear the car more on my left side, 
but the sounds are getting more soft, so the car must be moving away from me to 
my left."

Yes, your brain will do this even if you are blindfolded, and you don't really 
see the car at all.

For more information on this experience, you can research the words "Binaural 
Hearing," which means "hearing with both ears."  One of the best ways to search 
on the Internet is to go to .

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