Physiological correlates of the precedence effect and binaural masking level differences

Ruth Y. Litovsky*, David McAlpine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Decades of research in human and animal auditory psychophysics have provided a theoretical framework for understanding brain mechanisms responsible for mediating these functional abilities. The precedence effect (PE) and binaural masking level difference (BMLD) are two effects that have been studied in depth in order to understand auditory mechanisms that enhance localization, detection, and perception of signals under complex listening situations. This article provides an overview of recent studies in the field of electrophysiology that potentially illuminate those processes by which perceptual effects are achieved. Physiological studies have been undertaken in areas of the brain that are known to mediate mechanisms responsible for sound localization abilities. The article summarizes the behavioral findings in these various species, which suggests that the PE is a robust phenomenon that exists in both mammalian and non-mammalian species. Further, it discusses evidence that physiological correlates of the PE, and its phenomena, have been discovered in the auditory systems of various species.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Auditory Science
Subtitle of host publicationthe auditory brain
EditorsAlan R. Palmer, Adrian Rees
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9780191743481
ISBN (Print)9780199233281
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Auditory mechanisms
  • Binaural masking level difference
  • Electrophysiology
  • Precedence effect
  • Sound localization

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