Reports from adventitiously deafened individuals of a sense of unconnectedness with their surroundings, of a sense that the world seems “dead,” offer a compelling rationale for the argument that auditory cues are a crucial determinant of the sense of presence. Moreover, the crucial element of auditory stimulation for creating a sense of presence may be the auditory background, comprising the incidental sounds made by objects in the environment, rather than the communication and warning signals that typically capture our attention. Although designers of virtual environments have most often tried to maximize the sense of presence in the user by attempting to improve the fidelity of visual displays, the arguments presented here suggest that background auditory stimulation may be useful or even critical for achieving a full sense of presence.

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