sound localization3Christian showed me a very interesting phenomenon. It involves you being able to do two things: snapping your fingers and finding another person to play along with your experiment. So go get a family member, friend, or co-worker.

Have the other person either stand relaxed with their arms by their side or sitting on a chair, back straight and hands on their knees. Have them close their eyes.  Tell the other person that you will be snapping your fingers at various points around their body. After each snap, they are to point to where the snap is coming from. Make a few of the snaps very close to the back of their head, under their chin, and directly over their head.  What did you discover?

I bet you found that people pointed to the wrong and even opposite direction from the actual finger snapping location! Christian and I had fun trying this experiment on each other and we found that snapping under the chin sounded like it was coming from behind and snapping on top of the head sounded like it was coming from behind the head.

There is a reason for why this is happening: it is called the “cone of confusion“. There is an area around us where sound is ambiguous and can effect our interaural timing. But not to worry, scientists say that all we need to do is to move our heads and this will resolve this front-back aural ambiguity.

Click on the above links to read some of the science behind sound localization. I hope you enjoyed this Mind Trip!