Underwater Hearing and Sound Localization with and without an Air Interface

  title={Underwater Hearing and Sound Localization with and without an Air Interface},
  author={Avi Shupak and Zohara Sharoni and Yoav Yanir and Yoav Keynan and Yechezkel Alfie and Pinchas Halpern},
  journal={Otology \& Neurotology},
Hypothesis: Underwater hearing acuity and sound localization are improved by the presence of an air interface around the pinnae and inside the external ear canals. Background: Hearing threshold and the ability to localize sound sources are reduced underwater. The resonance frequency of the external ear is lowered when the external ear canal is filled with water, and the impedance-matching ability of the middle ear is significantly reduced due to elevation of the ambient pressure, the water-mass… 

Experiments on the mechanism of underwater hearing

The findings suggest that underwater sound perception is realized by the middle ear rather than by bone conduction, at least in shallow water conditions, according to divers tested in a swimming pool.

Experimental Analysis of the Mechanism of Hearing under Water

The intensities required to induce vibrations of the dry skull in water were significantly higher than the underwater hearing thresholds of the participants, under conditions when hearing by AC and osseous BC is not likely.

Soft Tissue Conduction: Review, Mechanisms, and Implications

  • H. Sohmer
  • Medicine, Biology
    Trends in hearing
  • 2017
Further research is required to determine whether the mechanism of the final stage of STC hearing involves the excitation of the ear by eliciting inner ear fluid pressures that activate the hair cells directly, by the induction of skull bone vibrations, or by a combination of both mechanisms.

Comparison of umbo velocity in air- and bone-conduction

Underwater Acoustic Source Localisation Among Blind and Sighted Scuba Divers: Comparative study.

Congenital blindness was found to positively affect the ability of a diver to recognise the source of a sound in an underwater environment, and divers should perform sound localisation tests during training sessions.

Influence of stimulation position on the sensitivity for bone conduction hearing aids without skin penetration

It is reliable to use the mastoid to determine BC thresholds in clinical audiometry, however, stimulation on a position superior-anterior to the pinna provides more efficient BC transmission than stimulation on the mastoids.

Underwater localization of pure tones by harbor seals (Phoca vitulina).

The underwater sound localization acuity of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) was measured and it is suggested that the harbor seal can be regarded as a low-frequency specialist.

Auditory anatomy of beaked whales and other odontocetes: Potential for cochlear stimulation via a "vibroacoustic duct mechanism"

The potential significance of these findings, including the role of the perilymphatic duct as a novel route of cochlear stimulation referred to as the “vibroacoustic duct mechanism,” are discussed.



Effect of air bubbles in the external auditory meatus on underwater hearing thresholds.

Thresholds of human hearing were obtained underwater for two conditions: (1) with the external auditory meatus completely water filled and (2) with a bubble of air trapped against the tympanic

Theoretical and applied external ear acoustics.

Examination of published studies on sound pressure transfer function provided by the external ear in humans finds that any change in the characteristics of the acoustic signal can produce considerable disparity in within- and between-individual responses.

Toward a standard for hearing conservation for underwater and hyperbaric environments.

  • P. Smith
  • Physics
    The Journal of auditory research
  • 1985
It was concluded that no well-developed theoretical basis exists for extrapolating current hearing-conservation standards for air-borne noise to the underwater situation, and the empirical data on underwater hearing suggest that the frequency range covered by an appropriate standard must be much broader than is the case in air.

Contribution of the external auditory meatus to auditory sensitivity underwater.

Testing the thresholds of seven submerged listeners provided further support for the hypothesis that underwater sound energy is transduced predominantly by bone conduction rather than by the normal middle ear linkage.

Acuity of Sound Localisation: A Topography of Auditory Space. II. Pinna Cues Absent

Findings provide support for the proposition that azimuth and elevation discrimination are coded independently, and the importance of the cues provided by the pinnae in these discriminations was confirmed.

An acoustic approach to diver navigation.

It was found that divers apparently can effectively navigate by means of auditory signals alone--at least within certain limits, and a significant decrease in the discrimination abilities of divers for frequencies above 6 kHz suggests that intensity cues may not be as robust as time-of-arrival information with respect to underwater sound localization.

Underwater sound localization in humans.

  • H. Hollien
  • Physics
    The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
  • 1973
The pilot study suggested that man can localize sounds underwater—at least to some degree, and a major experiment was carried out utilizing 17 divers in an underwater localization task.

The effect of blindness on horizontal plane sound source identification.

The results attest to the benefit of early visual experience for spatial hearing in adulthood, and demonstrate the negative impact of sudden loss of sight.

Sensitivity of the Water‐Immersed Ear to High‐ and Low‐Level Tones

Two experiments are reported regarding man's sensitivity to waterborne sound. The first study investigated the threshold sensitivity to tones of 250, 500, 1000, 1500, 2000, 3000, 4000, and 6000 cps

On the minimum audible angle

The difference limen for the azimuth of a source of pure tones was measured as a function of the frequency of the tone and the direction of the source. Tone pulses between 250 and 10 000 cps were