Strength and Physical Fitness Predict the Perception of Looming Sounds

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Listeners consistently perceive approaching sounds to be closer than they actually are and perceptually underestimate the time to arrival of looming sound sources. In a natural environment, this underestimation results in more time than expected to evade or engage the source and affords a "margin of safety" that may provide a selective advantage. However, a key component in the proposed evolutionary origins of the perceptual bias is the appropriate timing of anticipatory motor behaviors. Here we show that listeners with poorer physical fitness respond sooner to looming sounds and with a larger margin of safety than listeners with better physical fitness. The anticipatory perceptual bias for looming sounds is negatively correlated with physical strength and positively correlated with recovery heart rate (a measure of aerobic fitness). The results suggest that the auditory perception of looming sounds may be modulated by the response capacity of the motor system. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.


Auditory perception, Looming, Physical fitness, Strength

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