Learning Absolute Sound Source Localisation With Limited Supervisions

Chu Y, Luk W, Goodman D


An accurate auditory space map can be learned from auditory experience, for example during development or in response to altered auditory cues such as a modified pinna. We studied neural network models that learn to localise a single sound source in the horizontal plane using binaural cues based on limited supervisions. These supervisions can be unreliable or sparse in real life. First, a simple model that has unreliable estimation of the sound source location is built, in order to simulate the unreliable auditory orienting response of newborns. It is used as a Teacher that acts as a source of unreliable supervisions. Then we show that it is possible to learn a continuous auditory space map based only on noisy left or right feedbacks from the Teacher. Furthermore, reinforcement rewards from the environment are used as a source of sparse supervision. By combining the unreliable innate response and the sparse reinforcement rewards, an accurate auditory space map, which is hard to be achieved by either one of these two kind of supervisions, can eventually be learned. Our results show that the auditory space mapping can be calibrated even without explicit supervision. Moreover, this study implies a possibly more general neural mechanism where multiple sub-modules can be coordinated to facilitate each other's learning process under limited supervisions.