Visual factors in sound localization in mammals



The ability of mammals to localize sound varies widely among species. During the past decade, evidence has accumulated that this variation cannot be accounted for simply on the basis of the availability of the physical cues for locus. Evidence is presented that a major factor in sound localization is the need to direct the field of best vision to a sound source for further scrutiny. Thus, species with broad fields of best vision (such as visual streaks) require less accurate information regarding the location of a sound source than do species with very narrow fields of best vision (such as foveae). To support this suggestion, data are reported for the width of the field of best vision in the form of retinal ganglion cell isodensity contours for thirteen species of mammals. The possible contribution of other factors including binocular fields, visual acuity, and the degree to which a species is predatory in lifestyle, is also examined.