transient disparity

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Any instantaneous difference between the arrival times of a sound wave at the two ears, including interaural differences in the onset time of the sound, the termination time, and the time of any sudden change in pitch or intensity, but excluding ongoing or continuous phase delay. It is used in conjunction with phase delay as a cue (2) for localizing sounds below about 1,000 hertz (about two octaves above Middle C) having wavelengths greater than the diameter of the head, so that the sound waves bend round the head rather than being reflected from or absorbed by it, thus preventing a sonic shadow from forming on the side furthest from the sound source. Sound waves reach the nearer ear fractionally before the further one, and in an open area with no reflecting surfaces, or a simulation of these conditions using earphones, low-pitched sounds can be localized easily within 10 degrees in the horizontal plane (using other cues in addition, the minimum audible angle is nearer 2 degrees). Because sound travels through air at about 343 metres per second (1,240 kilometres per hour or 770 miles per hour), a simple calculation shows that people can detect time differences between the movements of their two eardrums of less than one ten-thousandth of a second. It is one of the binaural time differences or interaural time differences used in sound localization. See also binaural shift, biosonar, cone of confusion, sound localization. [From Latin transiens going over, from transire to go over, from trans across + ire to go]

Subjects: Psychology.

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