Manuscript template in 5th edition APA format - E

Manuscript template in 5th edition APA format - E
DIPLOMARBEIT
Titel der Diplomarbeit
Sex Differences in a Multisource Sound Localization Task
verfasst von
Björn Arne Plass
angestrebter akademischer Grad
Magister der Naturwissenschaften (Mag.rer.nat.)
Wien, 2013
Studienkennzahl lt. Studienblatt:
A442
Studienrichtung lt. Studienblatt:
Diplomstudium Anthropologie
Betreut von:
Prof. Karl Grammer
Danksagung
Allen voran möchte ich mich bei meinem Betreuer, Prof. Karl Grammer, bedanken. Durch
seine programmiertechnischen Fähigkeiten wurde dieses Experiment überhaupt erst
ermöglicht. Ebenfalls möchte ich mich dafür bedanken, dass Prof. Grammer laufend neue
Ideen in das Experiment einfließen ließ, die mein Denken erweiterten und mir somit halfen
diese Studie aus neuen Blickwinkeln zu betrachten. Des Weiteren möchte ich mich bei meiner
Familie bedanken, die auch in kritischen Zeiten der Arbeit für mich anwesend war und mir
stets mit neuen Ideen unter die Arme griff. Meiner Schwester, Kerstin, möchte ich dafür
danken, dass sie diese Arbeit noch einmal begutachtet hat und eine wunderbare
Diskussionspartnerin für dieses Thema war. Meinen Freunden, die mich in schwierigen Zeiten
der Arbeit auffingen und auf andere Gedanken bringen konnten, gebührt besonderer Dank.
Meinem Kommilitonen Johannes möchte ich dafür danken, dass er stets ein offenes Ohr hatte
und mich immer wieder auf neue Ideen brachte, aber auch dafür, dass er mir mit seiner Ruhe
und Gelassenheit viel Stress abnehmen konnte. Zu guter Letzt möchte ich mich bei allen
Menschen bedanken, welche hier nicht erwähnt wurden aber trotzdem dazu beigetragen
haben, dass sich diese Arbeit entwickeln konnte.
Table of contents
Abstract……………………………………………………………………….........................................1
Introduction…………………………………………………………………...........................................2
Methods.……………………………………………………………………............................................7
Participants rating study….....…………………........................................................................7
Stimuli rating study and sound localization task………………………….................................7
Material and Apparatus rating study..........................................................................................7
Procedure rating study................................................................................................................8
Participants sound localization study..........................................................................................8
Material and Apparatus sound localization task.........................................................................9
Procedure sound localization task.............................................................................................10
Data analysis sound localization task........................................................................................11
Results.....................................................................................................................................................11
Rating study...............................................................................................................................11
Sound localization task..............................................................................................................12
Self reported emotional status....................................................................................................13
Menstrual cycle and localization performance..........................................................................14
Discussion..............................................................................................................................................14
References..............................................................................................................................................19
Tables and figures..................................................................................................................................25
Appendices............................................................................................................................................43
Zusammenfassung................................................................................................................................ 50
Auhor Note............................................................................................................................................51
Curriculum Vitae...................................................................................................................................52
1
Abstract
The present study concerns the question of possible sex differences in a multisource sound
localization task. For this purpose, 45 stimuli where randomly played on one of five speakers
with a fixed interval of seven seconds each. For the duration of the experiment, the stimuli were
masked by background noise played on all five speakers simultaneously. A significant sex
difference, favoring males could be shown for the mean localization error of all 45 stimuli.
Additionally, it was investigated, whether the emotional quality of a sound is responsible for sex
differences in this localization task. Therefore a rating study was conducted prior to the
localization task, which yielded six classes of stimuli. Under this conditions, males outperformed
females in the precision of localization for almost all stimuli classes. Our study provides strong
evidence for male superiority in multisource sound localization tasks. This advantage may be
related to multimodal processing of the visual and auditory system, because male superiority was
shown for certain visuospatial tasks as well.
A male advantage for masked stimuli 2
Sex Differences in a Multisource Sound Localization Task
Sex differences in cognitive abilities have been shown for different tasks (Geary, Saults,
Liu, & Hord, 2000; Astur, Tropp, Sava, Constable, & Markus, 2004; Halari et al., 2006).
Generally males excel females in tasks dealing with certain spatial abilities, such as the mental
rotation task (Vandenberg & Kuse, 1978; Collins & Kimura, 1997). Contrariwise females exceed
males in tasks on verbal fluency (Kimura Doreen, 1992) and location memory of objects (Eals &
Silverman, 1994; McBurney, Gaulin, Devineni, & Adams, 1997). Different performances on
certain tasks favoring either males or females are culturally universal (Linn & Peterson, 1985;
Silverman, Choi, & Peters, 2007). To a certain degree those performances crucially depend on
physiological parameters like hormone levels. Thus, male performance on the MRT underlies
different levels of sex hormones. Higher levels of testosterone in men facilitated performance on
a MRT task whereas lower levels of testosterone lead to worse results on the same task (Hooven,
Chabris, Ellison, & Kosslyn, 2004). Further, a relationship between Follicle stimulation hormone
(FSH) and male performance on several spatial tasks was found (Gordon & Lee, 1986). Hence,
high concentrations of FSH in males led to a poor performance on those tests whereas low levels
of FSH caused better performance on the same tasks (Gordon & Lee).
The level of sexual hormones not only influences the skills of males in spatial tasks but
also the performance of women varies with different levels of sexual hormones. Depending on
the phase of their menstrual cycle, women exhibited different skills on a three dimensional MRT
(Hausmann, Güntürkün, Slabbekorn, Van Goozen, & Cohen-Kettenis, 2000). During their midluteal phase, when levels of estrogens are high, women performed poorer on visuospatial tasks
than during their menstrual phase, when levels of estrogens are low (Hausmann et al., 2000;
Philips & Silverman, 1997). In contrast Gordon and Lee (1993) couldn’t find such a relationship
A male advantage for masked stimuli 3
in females. Furthermore, circadian changes in testosterone levels in men seem to drive
performance on spatial tasks. On the one hand Moffat and Hampson (1996) found a curvilinear
relationship between circulating testosterone levels and a visuspatial task. Thus, male
participants performed worst on spatial tasks early in the morning, when testosterone levels were
highest. The opposite was found for intermediate levels of testosterone (Moffat & Hampson,
1996). On the other hand Silverman, Kastuk, Choi and Phillips (1999) found a positive
correlation between diurnal testosterone changes in men and a MRT. However, a more recent
study using a greater sample size couldn’t find such an effect (Puts et al, 2010).
So far, the literature above considered sex related cognitive differences in visuospatial
perception. But cognitive sex differences as well are found for other sensory modalities, such as
the auditory system. For instance, at sound pressure levels of 3 db and frequencies of 200Hz and
above, women as a group show a higher hearing sensitivity than males with both ears (Chung,
Mason, Gannon, & Wilson, 1983). Those sex differences in hearing sensitivity may develop
relatively early in childhood and could be shown for adults as well (Roche, Siervogel, Himes, &
Johnson, 1978). Furthermore women are more sensitive to high frequency sounds above 8 kHz
than males (Stelmachowicz, Beauchaine, Kalberer, & Jestaedt, 1989). In both sexes the right ear
is slightly more sensitive to noise than the left ear, with a difference of two to three dB
(McFadden Dennis, 1993; McFadden, 1998). Chung and colleagues (1983) showed this
asymmetry in hearing sensitivity to be dependent on sex, with a greater asymmetry in males than
in females. Another interesting finding (Tobias Jerry, 1965) is related to sex differences in the
perception of binaural beats. The effect of binaural beats occurs, when a single tone with low
frequency is presented to one ear, whereas another tone with a slightly higher frequency is
presented to the other ear simultaneously (McFadden, 1998). This suggests that neural pathways,
A male advantage for masked stimuli 4
which encode time differences in both ears, must somehow collaborate at a higher level to
integrate those two pure tones into one single perceived beat and that the male’s auditory system
seems to encode temporal factors of pure tones differently compared to women. In fact Tobias
(1965) found that the ability of females to perceive binaural beats failed when the first tone was
between 600 -800 Hz. However, males still had the feeling of a fusion of these two separated
sounds at the same frequency range (Tobias, 1965).
Another main function of the auditory system is its ability to localize sounds in the direct
environment. For this purpose it is necessary to know where a sound does come from. So to
properly identify the direction of a sound in the horizontal plane two binaural cues are needed,
the inter-aural time difference (ITD) and the inter-aural level difference (ILD) (Rayleigh, 1907;
Blauert Jens, 1983; Middlebrooks & Green, 1991). Usually low frequency sounds, below
1000 Hz, are encoded by ITD’s whereas high frequency sounds, above 1000 Hz, by ILD’s. This
is also known as the Duplex theory of sound (Rayleigh, 1907). But those two cues are not
separated from each other. Rather, in natural environments, sounds often consist of both low and
high frequencies. On the contrary, monaural spectral cues are crucial for encoding the origin of a
sound as well (Hebrank & Wright, 1974; Langendjik & Bronkhorst, 2002). Langford (1994)
showed a male superiority in the distinction of small differences in ITD’s and ILD’s. This
suggests that the precision of males in sound localization tasks might be higher than the one of
females. However, female performance in auditory tasks to a certain degree is influenced by
different fluctuating sexual hormone levels during the menstrual cycle (Tobias, 1965; Swanson
& Dengerink, 1988). For instance, the auditory sensitivity at 4 kHz in women with a regular
cycle was worse during menstruation than during ovulation (Swanson & Dengerink, 1988). The
detection of binaural beats in women seems to be critically influenced by their menstrual cycle as
A male advantage for masked stimuli 5
well. The perception of binaural beats was extended to higher frequencies shortly before and
during menstruation, then dropped and reached a second peak around day fifteen (Tobias, 1965).
In the past there have been conducted just a few studies which concerned cognitive sex
differences in sound localization tasks. Lewald (2004) could show that such sex differences in
sound localization might be related to possible lateralization effects in the auditory system.
Though he failed to demonstrate a gender difference in two of three experimental conditions (left
ear blocked, right ear blocked, both ears free, respectively), he could find a significant difference
when both sexes listened with just their right ear. Males as a group showed better performance in
the localization of vertical sound than females as a group (Lewald, 2004). On the contrary,
females as a group localized sounds better with their left ear than males as a group but this
finding didn’t reach significance (Lewald, 2004). Since all the participants in this study were
right handed, this finding may be grounded on gender differences in the lateralization of
cognitive processes in both hemispheres. In males the left hemisphere seems to be dominant in
the localization of sound in the vertical plane whereas females show a right hemisphere bias for
those conditions (Lewald, 2004). Another finding (Neuhoff, Planisek, & Seifritz, 2008) in sound
localization refers to sex differences in the audio-spatial perception of looming sounds. When
looming sounds stopped at a certain distance from the subject, women perceived those sounds to
be significantly closer to them than men. Such a bias wasn’t found for sounds, which moved
away from the subjects (Neuhoff et al., 2008). In a further study Bach, Neuhoff, Perrig and
Seifritz (2009) measured physiological parameters like skin conductance in response to looming
sounds or sounds that moved away from the subjects. Sounds that moved away from the subject
caused a smaller skin conductance magnitude than looming sounds (Bach et al., 2009).
Furthermore participants rated looming sounds to have a greater negative valence than receding
A male advantage for masked stimuli 6
sounds (Bach et al., 2009). A recent study (Zündorf & Karnath, 2011) dealt with the ability to
localize certain stimuli in a multisource environment. For this purpose they played five different
stimuli from five different loudspeakers in a quasi-random order. The task was to follow one
stimulus of those five and locate its directions by either using a head response method or a
manual pointer method. In the single source condition, when every stimulus was presented on
one of the five boxes, respectively, no gender bias in the accuracy of localization was found. But
as the subjects were exposed to the multisource condition males tended to be more precise in
their responses than females (Zündorf & Karnath, 2011). The above discussed literature treated
sex differences in visuospatial and audiospatial perception. It was seen that sex differences occur
task-dependently. The origin for those findings seems to be grounded on hormonally caused
differences in the development and architecture of certain brain regions which result in sexdependent cognitive patterns (Kimura Doreen, 1992; Neufang et al., 2009). However, in our
study we wanted to investigate possible sex differences in the localization of complex sound
stimuli in a multisource sound localization task.
Due to test our hypotheses, we created an environment with different ecologically valid
stimuli and background noise. In this multisource environment males on average localize those
stimuli, independent from their quality, more precisely than females. Furthermore the precision
in localization depends on the type of the stimulus. Unpleasant and harmful stimuli on average
are located more precisely by males than by females. On the contrary, females outperform males
in localization of stimuli with positive features such as baby noises or kids playing. Prior to the
localization task factor analyses were performed in order to gain proper emotional attributes for
each stimulus. A modified version of Rusell's circumplex model (1980) was used for the rating
study (see Methods section for details).
A male advantage for masked stimuli 7
Methods
Participants Rating Study
Participants of the rating study were 14 males (M=26.94; SD=3.36) and 16 females
(M=24, SD=2.05). All of them were recruited from different universities in Vienna. They all
were German native speakers.
Stimuli rating study and localization task
Forty-one sounds were selected from the IADS (The International Affective Digitized
Sounds) database (see Bradley & Lang, 2007 for detailed information). The other four sounds
were taken from a private database. To trim the sounds to a length of two seconds each the free
audio software Audacity (audacity.sourceforge.net) was used. A noise sequence of ten minutes
duration was obtained from a recording of a subway station. Furthermore every single sound and
the background noise sequence itself were edited to a sample rate of 44.1 kHz and digitalized to
16bit with the same audio software. Both stimuli and background noise were normalized to -6db.
They were played with Quick Time Player 10. The sound pressure level of the stimuli was 70db.
The background noise was presented at 55db.
Material and Apparatus Rating Study
To rate the different sounds the Python and Mac OSX based Interface Emotional Systems
(Grammer, Abend, Welke, & Holzleitner, 2013) was used. Since this was a computerized rating
study three Apple Mac Minis® served to run the Interface. Participants used an ordinary
computer mouse to drag the bars to one of 23 given pairs of opposites, at each time. The bar
could be dragged anywhere on a scale from 0 to 100. Thereby subjects could attribute emotional
qualities to the heard stimuli. 18 affect words were obtained from Russell (1982). The other four
A male advantage for masked stimuli 8
words were natural, dangerous, artificial and harmless. The participants heard the sounds through
Sennheiser HD201 Headphones.
Procedure Rating Study
The rating study took place at the Department of Anthropology at the University of
Vienna. At first participants were asked to take a seat in front of the computer and put on the
headphones. Before the experiment started, they were instructed to judge the stimuli as
intuitively as possible. Participants could stop and replay every single stimulus as many times as
they wished. If they weren’t able to assign a proper word to the heard sound they were told to
leave the bar in its original position. The 45 stimuli were presented in a random order.
In order to obtain the categories a sound belonged to, the rated items for each sound in a
first step were factor-analyzed. One factor analysis was conducted for the first 18 items, the
second one for the remaining four items (see Tables 1 and 2 for factor analyses with the used
affect words). Three factors could be extracted from the first analysis. The second analysis
yielded two factors. Subsequently the five saved regression variables were each plotted on the
sound stimuli (see Figure 1-5). Thereby, every stimulus could be attached to its proper category
(see Appendix C).
----------------------------------------Insert Figure 1-5 about here
-----------------------------------------
Participants Localization Study
N = 60 individuals participated in this experiment. Half (50%) of the sample were males
(M=25.68; SD=3.27 years), the other half (50%) were females (M=23.54; SD=3.73). All female
subjects were students from the University of Vienna. Almost all (76%) male participants were
students from the University of Vienna as well. The remaining participants either were
A male advantage for masked stimuli 9
employees (13%) or worked as freelancers (11%). The majority (90%) of the participants were
right handed. The remaining participants were either left handed (8.3%) or ambidextrous (1.7%).
Four individuals were excluded from the experiment because of hearing thresholds over 20dB.
Additionally, participants with higher mean deviations than 40° were excluded from the dataset.
Material and Apparatus Sound Localization Task
At first participants passed pure tone audiometry for the frequencies 125, 250, 500, 750,
1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 6000 and 8000 Hz in a 2 m × 2 m anechoic room, using AKG
Headphones (K-272 HD, AKG Acoustics). There were approximately 15 minutes between the
hearing task and the sound localization task. In the meantime, participants could rest their ears.
In this break they were asked to answer a questionnaire (see Appendix A) which included the
Positive and Negative Affective Schedule (PANAS) (Watson & Clark, 1988) as well. The
localization study then took place in a 6 m × 6 m absolutely dark reverberant room. Participants
sat on a fixed chair, which could be adjusted in height. This allowed bringing the listener’s head
in line with the loudspeakers. Additionally participants wore a blindfold. Five loudspeaker boxes
(Dynavox TG1000M, Dynavox Audio) were arranged in a semicircle (180°) with a radius of 2.5
m and a constant interval of 45° between each loudspeaker (90°, 135°, 180°, 225° and 270°,
respectively). Every loudspeaker was placed on a self-built platform of 120 cm height (see
Appendix B). One platform always consisted of one piece of plywood in the dimensions of
120cm×30cm×1cm and two pieces in the dimensions of 120cm×14,5cm×1cm. Those parts were
assembled with ordinary brackets and screws (3.5mm×12mm, Z2 Spax). A fourth plywood plate
(25cm×25cm×1cm) was mounted on top of the construction. All five speakers were connected to
an USB Audio Interface (ESI Gigaport HD+) via three RCA Cables (two 2×2 cinch and one 1×1
chinch, respectively). The two passive loudspeakers then were connected to the two active
A male advantage for masked stimuli 10
speakers via ordinary litz wires. Afterwards every single speaker was connected to its proper
analogue output on the Interface (i.e.: Speaker 1  Output 1). Consecutively the audio interface
was linked to a computer. A manual pointer method served to respond to the stimuli.
Participants could determine the assumed source of a stimulus by pressing a simple pushbutton
(HB15SKW01, NKK Switches), which was positioned at the back end of a rod. The rod itself
was fixed to the upper part of two plasterboards. Between the two small plasterboards
(10cm×8cm×3cm), which lay on top of each other, a potentiometer (PL300, novotechnik Siedle
Gruppe) was embedded. The upper plasterboard was versatile whereas the lower one was
attached to a solid tripod. Thus, participants could move the metal rod in the horizontal plane.
All the single electronic parts were connected to an Arduino board (Uno Rev3, arduino.cc). The
Arduino itself was connected to the computer via a USB cable (see Appendix D for the electronic
scheme). A self-developed program (Python 2.7.2 for Mac OS X) by Grammer recorded the
stimulus number, the absolute localization of the listener, the location of the sound source and
the deviation with respect to this source automatically.
Procedure Sound Localization Task
At first, listeners were acquainted to the manual pointer method. For this purpose, three
out of 45 stimuli were chosen and played randomly on one of each loudspeaker box successively.
Simultaneously, the background noise was played on all five loudspeakers. The task was to
determine the direction of the source by pointing at it. Time intervals between the stimuli were
not fixed in this phase. This was done for the amount of time the participants deemed necessary
and confirmed to feel comfortable with the pointing method. The main part of the experiment
was quite similar to the adaptation phase. Instead of three randomly chosen stimuli all 45 stimuli
were played in a random order, different for every participant. Furthermore a chosen stimulus
A male advantage for masked stimuli 11
could randomly occur on one of the five loudspeakers. Between each stimulus there was a fixed
interval of 7 seconds. Background noise was played on all five speakers at once during the whole
experiment. It was always presented in the same manner, starting at null seconds. Listeners were
asked to localize the heard stimuli as precisely as possible with respect to their origin. The
experiment lasted about eight minutes.
Data Analysis Localization Task
Since all variables were normally distributed in both groups independent sample t-tests
were conducted. To compare the overall accuracy between the sexes mean absolute deviation for
every single participant was computed. Furthermore the absolute deviation error with respect to
every single sound was compared between males and females. The same procedure was done for
every single yielded factor. Listeners who had deviations of 40° and more were excluded from
the test. A possible relationship between the self-reported emotional status and the localization
performance was tested by bivariate correlations. The variables of the PANAS were correlated
with the overall mean deviations of the subjects and the deviations for evaluated categories of
stimuli. Additionally it was investigated whether patterns in localization accuracy varied
according to the different phases of the menstrual cycle. For this reason we just selected female
subjects, which answered to have not used hormonal contraceptives at least during the past year.
The likelihood of conception was computed using Joechle’s (1973) formula (standardized day of
the menstrual cycle = day of the menstrual cycle / average duration of the menstrual cycle).
Consequently, gained data of twelve females, was plotted on a graph and compared to
localization performance (see Figure 13). Data was analyzed with SPSS v17.
Results
Rating Study
A male advantage for masked stimuli 12
Two principal component analyses (PCA) with varimax (orthogonal) rotation were
conducted (see Tables 1 and 2). Factor analyses yielded five factors altogether. The KaiserMeyer-Olkin Measure of sampling adequacy indicated the first sample to be reliable for analyses,
whereas the other sample was close to the recommended value of .6 (Kaiser & Rice, 1974) to be
trustworthy (KMO=.869; KMO=.566). Nevertheless, it was decided to factor analyze those 4
items, because the KMO value for the second analysis was quite close to six. Bartlett’s test of
Sphericity was significant for both analyses (2 (153) = 1296.87, p < .001), p<.001; 2 (10)
=145.92, p < .001).
The analyses of the 18 items generated three factors whereby the first factor explained
50% of the variance, the second factor 22% and the third factor 13%. According to Rusell (1980)
the first factor was interpreted as arousal, the second as sleepiness and the third factor was
treated as displeasure. The PCA of the four remaining items produced two factors with the first
factor explaining 55% of the variance and the second factor explaining 23%. The first factor was
construed as threatening and the second factor as artificial. Items with factor loadings of .8 or
above were selected to belong to the factor (see Table 2 for the rotated component matrix for
both analyses). Scatter plots of the stimuli and the five different factors resulted in five categories
of sounds which were named arousal, sleepy, displeasure, pleasure, threat and artificial.
----------------------------------------Insert Table 1-2 about here
-----------------------------------------
Sound Localization Task
The overall mean localization error for all 45 stimuli was significantly lower for males as
a group, than for females as a group; t(58) = -2.77, p < .01) (see Figure 6). Furthermore a
significant effect for sex with respect to the absolute deviation for a single sound was found for
A male advantage for masked stimuli 13
seven out of 45 stimuli. Thus, males as a group had significantly lower mean deviations than
females for the following sounds: growl, t(52) = -3.02, p < .01; can, t(56) = -2.13, p < .05; male
laugh, t(56) = -2.39, p < .05; kids, t(57) = -2.36, p < .05; man wheeze; t(54) = -2.17, p < .05;
phone ring; t(55) = -3.77, p < .001, and shot, t(58) = -2.31, p < .05. For four other stimuli sex
differences were marginally significant. Males as a group located the barking of a dog,
t(55) = -2.17, p > .05, a sobbing couple, t(58) = -1.87, p > .05, and the sound of a machine gun,
t(56) = -1.79, p > .05, more precisely than females, except for one stimulus. Females as a group
had lower deviations than males in the localization of a vibrating mobile phone, t(55) = 1.79,
p>.05. There was an insignificant trend (p > .10, respectively) for the remaining 38 stimuli
favoring males for most of the stimuli, except five (see Table 3 for means and standard
deviations of all sounds for both groups). Furthermore, for those stimuli which were evaluated to
be arousing a significant difference was found, insofar that they were localized more precisely by
males as a group, t(58) = -3.58, p < .01, than by females as a group. The same could be shown
for displeasuring stimuli, t(58) = -2.49, p < .05, sounds which were described to be threatening,
t(58) = -3.58, p < .05, artificial stimuli, t(58) = -2.32, p < .05, and pleasuring stimuli, t(58) = 2.34, p < .05 but not for sleepy stimuli, t(58) = -1.49, p > .05 (see figure 7-12 for bar charts).
Table four represents means and standard deviations for localization errors in relation to the
evaluated categories.
---------------------------------------------------------Insert Figure 6-12 and Table 3-4 about here
----------------------------------------------------------
Self-reported Emotional Status and Sound Localization
The 19 items of the PANAS were factor-analyzed using a Principal component analysis
(PCA) with varimax rotation (see Table 5). The Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin Measure of Sampling
A male advantage for masked stimuli 14
Adequacy (KMO=.746) indicated the sample to be suitable for analysis. Bartlett’s Test of
Spericity (2 (190) = 654.24, p < .001) suggests the correlation matrix not to be an identity
matrix. Analysis yielded two factors, explaining 28% and 21% percent of the variance,
respectively. Items with values above .4 were chosen to belong to a factor. Eight items loaded on
the first factor, seven items onto the second factor (see Appendix for the rotated component
matrix). In accordance with Watson and Tellegen (1988) the first factor was interpreted as
negative affect and the second factor as positive affect. There was no relationship between the
self-reported emotional status and the localization performance in all tested variables, with one
exception. A negative correlation for the factor positive affect and negative sound stimuli was
found, r(58) = -.28, p < .05.
----------------------------------------Insert Table 5 about here
-----------------------------------------
Menstrual Cycle and Localization Performance
A weak negative linear relationship (R² = .05) could be shown between the likelihood of
conception and overall mean localization performance. Females with a higher likeliness of
conception tended to be more accurate in the localization of the stimuli than women with a lower
risk of conception.
----------------------------------------Insert Figure 13 about here
-----------------------------------------
Discussion
Results confirmed hypothesis in certain aspects. At first, it could be shown that males as
a group had a lower overall mean deviation for all 45 stimuli than females, on average. The
A male advantage for masked stimuli 15
comparison of absolute deviation in relation to a single stimulus yielded sex differences in
localization accuracy for seven of 45 stimuli. Thus, males determined the stimuli growl, can,
male laugh, kids, man wheeze, phone ring and shot more precisely than women with respect to
their source. A marginally significant localization bias occurred for four other stimuli. Three
stimuli (dog barking, couple sobbing, machine gun) where located more precisely by males as a
group than by females as a group whereas the remaining stimulus (mobile phone vibration) was
recognized more accurately by females as a group than by males as a group. Furthermore, a sex
bias for all obtained categories of stimuli was found, showing males to have lower mean
localization errors than females. We failed to confirm the assumed superiority of females next to
males when pleasurably stimuli (i.e.: kids playing, baby laughing, kids talking, female laughing
and male laugh) had to be located. To a certain extent, our findings are consistent with the results
of Zündorf and Karnath (2012), insofar, that there seems to be a male advantage of sound
localization in an environment with multiple sources. As it has been reasoned in the introduction
the auditory system uses different binaural (ITD, ILD) and monaural cues (spectral cues), to
encode the direction of a sound stimulus adequately. Furthermore, it was mentioned that there
are sex differences in the processing of these cues (Langford, 1994). In relation to our
experiment it seems that males tend to be more capable of encoding these certain cues than
females. Though, it has to be stated that, in contrast to other sound localization tasks, our
experiment was conducted in a reverberant room. In such rooms the noise is resonated by the
walls, which causes delays. This might contribute to confusions in identifying the proper sound
source. Nevertheless, accurate localization of sound stimuli is possible in reverberant rooms,
concerning the precedence effect, which describes the ability of the auditory system to somehow
restore spatial information of the first arriving wave whereas the produced delays are integrated
A male advantage for masked stimuli 16
afterwards (Wallach Hans, 1949). Thereby, the original direction of a sound source can be
maintained. With respect to our findings it can be suggested, that the male auditory systems
might be more sensitive to changes in temporal information of complex sounds in reverberant
environments.
But as seen, there is another phenomenon, which might influence the performance on
audiospatial tasks, i.e. the menstrual cycle. The higher the chance of conception was, the better
females performed on the task. Even though, the effect we found is fairly weak there seems to be
a certain trend in the data, which is in line with the results of other experiments (Tobias, 1965;
Swanson, & Dengerink, 1988). However, this effect might have been stronger if there had been a
greater number of female subjects tested. Furthermore, it could be shown that participants who
reported to feel less positive had larger errors in localization. This outcome seems to imply that
the emotional status of a participant can influence overall performance in such experiments
crucially and might explain some of the high mean deviations of participants. Furthermore, the
use of the pointer method itself possibly had an influence on our results, since males and females
perform differently on certain eye-hand coordination tasks. For example, males are faster in
finger tapping tasks whereas females show better scores for the grooved pegboard tasks (Ruff &
Barker, 1993). Concerning the pointer method males might have an advantage in handling the
metal rod more precise than females. However, our outcomes suggest that cognitive sex
differences not just occur for certain visuospatial tasks, but can be found for audiospatial tasks as
well. This leads to the assumption that there might be multimodal processing between these two
qualities.
Indeed, there seems to be some evidence for this assumption. In a newer study Zwiers
and colleagues (2003) examined in how far a change in the visual modality (0.5×lenses for 1
A male advantage for masked stimuli 17
day) led to a changes in the auditory modality as well. Their results suggest that the reducing of
the visuospatial solution resulted in a comparably reduced solution of audiospatial perception, at
least in azimuth (Zwiers et al, 2013). Following this finding, these two qualities must somehow
act in concert. Thus, the auditory system acts as a kind of coordinator leading the visual towards
a certain event within the environment (Guski, 1992). As suggested by Neuhoff (2009) and
Zündorf and Karnath (2011) male superiority in audiospatial tasks might be a product of better
visuospatial skills and males therefore are more capable of intrinsically encoding spatial
properties of the environment. If this is true, such fundamental differences probably have
evolved pretty early in human evolution. A proper environment can be found around two million
years ago, when humans lived together in small hunter-gatherer groups. It seems reasonable that
sex differences in spatial abilities were shaped due to different patterns of foraging in males and
females (Eals & Silverman, 1994, Silverman & Eals, 2000). To localize the position of prey
properly it needs certain auditory and visual spatial skills. These skills might differ from those,
which are needed to gather food. The ability of males, to localize stimuli which cause arousal
and such which were evaluated to be threatening more precisely than females, might fit this idea.
But, since all different stimuli categories in our task, except stimuli, which were rated to be
sleepy, yielded sex differences favoring males, it is not likely that these results are just caused by
the semantic meaning of stimulus itself. It seems more likely that stimuli, which were evaluated
to belong to the same category, share more physical properties with respect to their acoustical
similarities than sounds, which don’t (Staeren, Renvall, De Martino, Goebel, & Formisano,
2009). Nevertheless, the physical qualities of a sound stimulus must be encoded properly to
attribute a semantic meaning to it. Following this idea it is possible that males decode the
physical qualities of such categorical stimuli more precisely than females, which enables them to
A male advantage for masked stimuli 18
trigger the semantic meaning of a sound faster and to be more aware under such conditions.
Linking this notion to the finding of sex differences for localization of threatening and negative
stimuli might explain male superiority in our experimental setup. In a hunter-gatherer
environment it could have been an advantage for males to react more accurately and faster to
threatening stimuli, to avoid to get killed by predators during foraging.
However, it has been shown that sex differences in the ability of sound localization in
such a multisource environment may be governed by cognitive sex differences in the processing
of the physical properties of the stimulus itself. With regards to our findings, this study
contributed to the understanding of auditory sex differences in multisource sound environments.
Since this was one of the first experiments measuring sex differences under such conditions
further studies are required to confirm our findings.
A male advantage for masked stimuli 19
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A male advantage for masked stimuli 24
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A male advantage for masked stimuli 25
Table1.
Rotated Component Matrix of the rating study. Items with factor loadings of .8 or higher
belong to the factor. Note: words in this list were obtained from Russell (1980)
Component
Items
1
2
3
4
schwermuetig
,982
ungluecklich
,973
-,182
veraergert
,963
-,147
unzufrieden
,957
-,234
ueberdruessig
,926
-,313
verzweifelt
,922
-,297
nichterregt
-,268
,918
traege
-,239
,883
,264
entspannt
-,418
,869
,133
schlaefrig
,307
,858
,227
matt
-,462
,833
,111
gelassen
-,546
,801
unterwuerfig
beeinflussbar
,291
-,182
-,119
,119
,901
-,199
-,168
-,165
,857
ehrfuerchtig
,115
,842
,183
umsorgt
,254
,751
-,433
,714
,596
kontrolliert
gelenkt
-,147
,657
-,106
,667
A male advantage for masked stimuli 26
Table2.
Rotated Component Matrix for the second analysis. Items with factor loadings of .8 or
higher belong to the factor.
Component
Items
1
2
harmlos
-,944
-,107
stoerend
,889
,201
unbekannt
,446
,248
natuerlich
-,200
-,963
maschinell
,230
,949
A male advantage for masked stimuli 27
Table3.
Means and standard deviations for male and female groups for all 45 stimuli.
Note: The data in parentheses represent the sound number of the stimuli.
Males
Females
Stimulus
N
M
SD
N
M
SD
Panting (104)
30
13.28
9.40
29
14.41
13.08
Puppy (105)
29
13.78
9.01
26
11.95
9.69
Dog Growl (106)
27
8.48
4.91
27
14.66
9.42
Dog (107)
28
10.79
8.28
29
16.31
12.56
Baby (110)
30
12.61
7.60
28
18.03
14.86
KidsTalk (112)
29
12.08
8.81
28
12.80
10.15
Bees (115)
28
12.19
8.92
30
17.04
13.56
BoyLaugh (220)
28
12.00
10.95
25
10.63
7.50
MaleLaugh (221)
28
11.32
6.86
30
19.14
15.99
KidsPlay (224)
30
10.60
8.10
29
16.50
10.90
Laughing (226)
29
13.81
10.08
28
10.99
8.44
Giggling (230)
29
12.22
8.80
26
15.11
12.11
M.Cough (241)
27
11.00
6.81
27
14.76
14.51
F.Cough (242)
29
12.25
9.32
30
16.77
11.43
M.Wheeze (244)
28
12.40
9.12
28
19.29
14.02
BabiesCry (260)
29
12.52
8.63
27
14.89
14.27
Yawn (262)
29
12.53
10.03
30
13.75
11.87
Whistling (270)
30
19.51
17.74
30
26.35
21.40
Scream (275)
30
12.91
7.34
29
15.32
11.33
F.Scream (277)
29
12.03
11.42
27
17.24
12.59
Ch.Abuse (278)
28
11.58
9.40
29
12.91
9.90
A male advantage for masked stimuli 28
Fight (283)
29
10.60
8.56
29
13.80
9.65
Attack (284)
29
12.97
12.78
29
17.54
14.50
GunShot (289)
29
13.00
6.80
29
17.32
12.69
C.Sobb. (295)
30
12.29
7.51
30
17.21
12.28
Crowd (312)
29
11.70
10.20
30
15.95
12.29
R.Coaster (360)
28
13.19
10.62
28
14.16
10.57
Crowd2 (368)
30
17.23
13.92
29
14.99
11.31
Injury (423)
27
10.91
6.82
26
10.65
9.55
AirRaid (624)
29
12.59
10.49
29
14.78
12.90
Explosion (626)
30
12.16
10.17
29
14.20
12.75
BusySignal (703)
27
12.25
9.64
30
26.54
17.43
Phone (704)
29
14.02
11.51
28
13.70
10.32
Clock (708)
30
11.96
8.63
28
12.26
7.37
Buzzer (712)
28
11.42
7.78
28
13.63
12.21
Dent.Drill (719)
29
14.45
8.42
30
14.97
12.93
Walking (722)
28
16.04
14.52
28
12.01
9.11
Crash (732)
28
8.66
6.74
26
10.24
6.64
Guitar (816)
29
15.11
11.49
28
20.32
15.94
Vibration (817)
30
14.81
13.41
27
9.40
8.62
MGunburst (818)
28
9.52
5.89
30
14.09
12.25
GunShot (819)
27
10.44
7.73
30
18.82
17.30
Lighter (820)
30
14.14
11.57
28
17.22
11.55
Hello (821)
29
14.26
9.96
27
11.32
7.78
CanDrop (822)
29
9.12
5.74
29
14.96
13.60
A male advantage for masked stimuli 29
Table4.
Means and standard deviations for males and females in relation to overall mean
localization error and mean localization error of evaluated stimuli classes
Males
N
M
Females
SD
N
M
SD
OverallMean
30
12,65
2,87
30
15,68
5,25
Arousal
30
12,13
3,95
30
16,87
6,07
Sleepy
30
13,35
4,08
30
15,50
6,78
Displeasure
30
12,53
3,93
30
16,16
6,96
Threat
30
11,55
3,30
30
15,22
5,44
Artificial
30
12,46
3,91
30
15,38
5,65
Pleasure
30
13,31
5,18
30
17,47
8,20
A male advantage for masked stimuli 30
Table5.
Rotated component matrix for the PANAS schedule. Note: Items with .8 or higher were
selected to belong to the factor
Component
Item
1
2
3
4
erschrocken
,873
veraengstigt
,860
,102
schuldig
,854
-,105
feindselig
,804
-,185
beschaemt
,770
,164
gereizt
,664
veraergert
,583
wachsam
,106
aufmerksam
-,112
5
-,150
-,373
,181
,202
,412
,207
-,276
,572
,869
,856
aktiv
-,156
,710
entschlossen
-,130
,686
begeistert
-,206
,566
,326
,156
-,126
interessiert
-,457
,554
,148
,271
,277
stark
-,267
,524
,483
,246
,252
,236
,859
,104
,852
freudigerregt
angeregt
,194
,275
,140
,213
,122
bekuemmert
,130
,896
stolz
,321
,252
,586
,122
,118
,796
durcheinander
,154
-,288
-,128
nervoes
,248
,226
,243
,524
A male advantage for masked stimuli 31
Figure 1.The sound number was plotted against the ratings for the first factor (arousal).
Note: The SoundNos. 242, 260, 277, 278, 284, 295, 423, 624, 703 and 818 loaded positive on the
first factor, with .8 or higher. SoundNos. 110, 112, 220, 221, 224, 226, 230, 270 and 821 were
interpreted as pleasure.
A male advantage for masked stimuli 32
Figure2. The sound number was plotted against the ratings for the second factor (sleepiness.).
Note: The SoundNos. 221, 241, 289, 626, 708, 722, 816 and 820 loaded positive on the first
factor, with .8 or higher
A male advantage for masked stimuli 33
Figure3. The sound number was plotted against the ratings for the third factor (displeasure).
Note: The SoundNos. 104, 112, 244, 275, 277, 289, 295, 360,820 and 822 loaded positive on the
first factor, with .8 or higher.
A male advantage for masked stimuli 34
Figure4. The sound number was plotted against the ratings for the fourth factor (threat)
Note: The SoundNos. 106, 242, 244, 275, 277, 278, 283, 284, 423, 624, 712, 719 and 818 loaded
positive on the first factor, with .8 or higher.
A male advantage for masked stimuli 35
Figure5. The sound number was plotted against the ratings for the fifth factor (artificial).
Note: The SoundNos. 289, 368, 624, 703, 704, 708, 712, 719, 732, 817, 818, 819, 820 and 822
loaded positive on the first factor, with .8 or higher.
A male advantage for masked stimuli 36
Figure6. Overall mean localization error of males and females for all 45 stimuli. Note: error bars
(± S.E); Females (M=15.68); Males (M=12.64)
A male advantage for masked stimuli 37
Figure7. Mean localization error for all arousing stimuli. Note: error bars (±S.E); Females
(M=16.87); Males (M=12.13)
A male advantage for masked stimuli 38
Figure8. Mean localization error for all pleasuring stimuli. Note: error bars (±S.E); Females
(M=17.47); Males (M=13.31)
A male advantage for masked stimuli 39
Figure9. Mean localization error for all sleepy stimuli. Note: error bars (±S.E); Females
(M=15.50); Males (M=13.34)
A male advantage for masked stimuli 40
Figure10. Mean localization error for all threatening stimuli. Note: error bars (±S.E); Females
(M=15.22); Males (M=11.55)
A male advantage for masked stimuli 41
Figure11. Mean localization error for all displeasuring stimuli. Note: error bars (±S.E); Females
(M=16.16); Males (M=12.52)
A male advantage for masked stimuli 42
Figure12. Mean localization error for all artificial stimuli. Note: error bars (±S.E); Females
(M=15.38); Males (M=12.46)
A male advantage for masked stimuli 43
Figure13. Overall mean localization error (deg) plotted against likeliness of perception (percent).
Note: Dots representing the twelve females who didn’t use hormonal contraceptives; R²=0.057
A male advantage for masked stimuli 44
Appendix A
Proband Nr.:
Alter:
Beruf:
Fragebogen
Anmerkung: Bitte beantworten Sie die Ihnen gestellten Fragen gewissenhaft. Die erhobenen Daten werden streng
vertraulich behandelt. Mit der Teilnahme an dem Versuch gestatten Sie dem Experimentator diese Daten für
wissenschaftliche Analysen zu benutzen.
Ich habe den obigen Text gelesen und bin mit der anonymen Veröffentlichung meiner Daten einverstanden.
Wien, am
Unterschrift:_______________________
1.
Besteht eine ärztlich attestierte Beeinträchtigung Ihres Hörvermögens (Tinnitus, Taubheit,…)?
Ja □ Nein □
Wenn ja, welcher Befund liegt vor?
2.
Hatten Sie jemals einen operativen Eingriff am Ohr?
Ja □ Nein □
Wenn ja, an welchem der beiden Ohren?
Rechts □ Links □ Beide □
3.
Benötigen Sie Hör-Hilfsmittel?
Ja □ Nein □
Wenn ja, welches und auf welchem Ohr?
Rechts □ Links □ Beide □ Hilfsmittel:
4.
Wie oft hören Sie laute Musik über Kopfhörer (Mp3 Player, etc.)?
selten (1/2mal/Monat) □ häufiger (1-2mal/Woche) □ täglich □
5.
Wie oft besuchen Sie laute Musikveranstaltungen (Clubs, Discos, Konzerte)?
A male advantage for masked stimuli 45
1-2 mal/Monat □ 3 mal oder öfter/Monat
6.
Benutzen Sie einen Lärm- oder Schallschutz wenn die Musik laut ist?
Ja □ Nein □
7.
Haben Sie Probleme Menschen in einem lauten Umfeld (z.B.: Party) zu verstehen?
Ja □ Nein □
8.
Sind Sie Raucher/in
Ja □ Nein □
Wenn ja, wieviele Zigaretten rauchen Sie pro Tag?
9.
Trinken Sie Alkohol?
Ja □ Nein □
Wenn ja, wie oft in der Woche?
10. Konsumieren Sie andere Drogen außer Alkohol und Tabak
Ja □ Nein □
Wenn ja, welche Droge/n und in welcher Häufigkeit?
Droge/n:
gelegentlich (1-2 mal im Monat) □ regelmäßig (1-2mal die Woche) □ täglich □
11. Stehen Sie zum jetzigen Zeitpunkt dieser Untersuchung unter dem Einfluss illegaler
Rauschmittel/verordnungspflichtiger Medikamente?
Ja □ Nein □
12. Händigkeit
links □ rechts □ beidhändig □
13. Sind Sie Brillenträger/in oder tragen andere Sehbehelfe?
Ja □ Nein □
Wenn ja, welche Sehbehelfe?
14. Hatten Sie jemals eine gröbere Verletzung der Hände oder Arme (z.B.: Bruch)?
Ja □ Nein □
Wenn ja, welche Hand war betroffen?
links □ rechts □ beide □
A male advantage for masked stimuli 46
15. Haben Sie bereits an einem Hörexperiment teilgenommen?
Ja □ Nein □
Wenn ja, an welcher Art von Experiment?
Nur von Frauen auszufüllen!
1.
An welchem Tag Ihres Zyklus befinden Sie sich?
2. Benutzen Sie zurzeit Verhütungsmittel?
Ja □ Nein □
Wenn ja, welches und seit wann (Hormonpräparate, Spirale, etc…)?
A male advantage for masked stimuli 47
Appendix B
This picture represents the experimental setup. Note: The numbers represent the position of the speakers
in relation to the listener.
A male advantage for masked stimuli 48
Appendix C
List of stimuli belonging to the 6 different categories
Note: Since the last 3 seconds of every stimulus were trimmed, the stimuli Gun Shot and Explosion
didn’t sound like the original sound. Because of this reason they were rated to belong to the category
Sleepy.
Arousal
Sleepy
Displ.
Threat
Artificial
Pleas.
F.Cough
M.Cou
Panting
Growl
Gunshot
Baby
M.Whe
Yawn
Kids
F.Cough
Crowd
KidsTalk
B.Cry
G.Shot
M.Whe
Scream
Airraid
BoyLaugh
F.Scream
Explosion
Scream
F.Scream
B.Signal
MaleLaugh
C. Abuse
Clock
Rcoaster
Fight
Phone
KidsPlay
C.Sobb
Walking
Lighter
Attack
Clock
Giggling
Injury
Lighter
Candrop
Injury
Buzzer
Laughing
Attack
Bongos
Airraid
D.Drill
Whistling
Airraid
Buzzer
Crash
Guitar
B.Signal
M. Gun
Vibration
Hello
M.Gun
Gun2
A male advantage for masked stimuli 49
Appendix D
Note: This illustration shows the electronic scheme for the Hand Pointer Method.
A male advantage for masked stimuli 50
Zusammenfassung
In der vorliegenden Studie wurde der Einfluss des Geschlechts auf mögliche Unterschiede
in Bezug auf die Präzision der Lokalisation verschiedener ökologisch valider
Geräuschstimuli untersucht. Um eventuelle Unterschiede zu testen wurde eine Umgebung
mit fünf Lautsprechern, welche im Halbkreis angeordnet waren, und einer speziellen
Handzeiger-Methode entwickelt. Die Stimuli wurden in sieben Sekunden Abständen
randomisiert auf jeweils einem der fünf Lautsprecher abgespielt. Gleichzeitig ertönte aus
allen fünf Lautsprechern eine Hintergrundsequenz einer belebten U-Bahn Station. Ziel der
Probanden war es die plötzlich auftauchenden überlagerten Stimuli möglichst genau zu
orten. Es wurde gezeigt, dass männliche Probanden im Durschnitt eine höhere Präzision in
der Lokalisation der Stimuli hatten als weibliche Probanden. Um zu testen ob die
Eigenschaften der Stimuli selbst für die Unterschiede in der Präzision der Lokalisierung
verantwortlich waren, wurde zuvor eine Bewertungsstudie durchgeführt. In dieser konnten
Probanden den Geräuschen verschiedene semantische Bedeutungen zuordnen. Bei
Betrachtung des mittleren Fehlers der Abweichungen in Bezug auf die einzelnen Faktoren
konnte gezeigt werden, dass männliche Probanden gefährliche, passive, und Geräusche mit
einer negativen Valenz genauer orten als weibliche Probandinnen. Der angenommene
Vorteil für Probandinnen in Bezug auf die Präzision der Ortung von Stimuli mit einer
positiven Valenz konnte nicht gezeigt werden. Diese Ergebnisse zeigen einen klaren
Vorteil für Männer in der Richtungslokalisation von überlagerten Stimuli im Raum, und
lassen darauf schließen, dass es kognitive Geschlechterdifferenzen in Bezug auf die
Richtungslokalisation von Geräuschen gibt. Da männliche Probanden ebenfalls genauer
bei Tests auf visuell-räumlichen Fähigkeiten abschnitten, ist dieser Vorteil möglicherweise
auf Geschlechtsunterschiede in den Verschaltungen zwischen visuellen und auditiven
Arealen im Gehirn zurückzuführen.
A male advantage for masked stimuli 51
Author Note
Björn Plass, Department of Anthropology, University of Vienna
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Björn Plass, Department
of Anthropology, University of Vienna, Althanstraße 14, A-1090 Vienna.
E-mail: [email protected]
A male advantage for masked stimuli 52
BJÖRN ARNE PLASS
CURRICULUM VITAE
1986
geboren in Wien
1992-2000
Pflichtschule
2000-2004
BORG Polgarstraße naturwissenschaftlicher Zweig
2004
Matura
2005
Zivildienst
2006
Immatrikulation für das Diplomstudium Biologie (Studienzweig Anthropologie)
2010
Tutor Sezierkurs Block 21 (Bewegungsapparat) für Medizin
2012
Auslandsaufenthalt (Erasmus) Universität Freiburg (Bernstein Center for
computational neuroscience) mit Schwerpunkt kognitive Neurowissenschaften
2013
Diplomarbeit zum Thema Psychoakustik: Sex differences in a mulitsource sound
localization task
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