Eye position and visual attention influence perceived auditory direction.
The singular and joint effects of eccentric visual fixation and peripheral visual attention upon the perceived auditory median plane (PAMP) of the head were examined in four subjects. They positioned a hidden, horizontally-moving sound source to the perceived median plane of the head, while fixating a light 20 degrees or 45 degrees to the right or left of the actual median plane, and attending to another light in peripheral vision. Analysis by multiple linear regression yielded a model for each subject which indicated the nature and weighting of those factors contributing to variance reduction in PAMP judgments. Three subjects showed a strong linear attention effect, resulting in shifts of the PAMP away from the locus of attention. Similarly, a strong linear fixation effect was discovered in two subjects, a weak effect in another, and a nonlinear, inverse fixation effect in the last. Additional factors were noted for some subjects. Possible explanations of the observed effects were discussed. The study indicates that both visual attention and visual fixation are critical factors in experiments on auditory space perception although inter-individual differences do exist in the nature and strength of the effects.