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Contribution of Interaural Difference to Obstacle Sense of the Blind During Walking

Most blind people can recognize some measure of objects existing around them only by hearing. This ability is called "obstacle sense" or "obstacle perception". It is known that this ability is facilitated while the subjects are moving, however, the exact reason of the facilitation has been unknown. It is apparent that some differences of sounds reaching between both ears significantly change while approaching the obstacles. We focused on this phenomenon called interaural difference in order to analyze the facilitation mechanism of the obstacle sense. We investigated how the interaural differences change depending on the head rotation while walking and then measured the DL (Difference Limen) of the interaural difference. Furthermore, we compared the measurement data and the DL with the relationship between the subject-to-obstacle distance, and then discussed one of the factors of the facilitating the obstacle sense.

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