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J Acoust Soc Am. 2006 Sep;120(3):1435-45.

Predictions of formant-frequency discrimination in noise based on model auditory-nerve responses.

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  • 1Boston University Hearing Research Center, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, 44 Cummington Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.


To better understand how the auditory system extracts speech signals in the presence of noise, discrimination thresholds for the second formant frequency were predicted with simulations of auditory-nerve responses. These predictions employed either average-rate information or combined rate and timing information, and either populations of model fibers tuned across a wide range of frequencies or a subset of fibers tuned to a restricted frequency range. In general, combined temporal and rate information for a small population of model fibers tuned near the formant frequency was most successful in replicating the trends reported in behavioral data for formant-frequency discrimination. To explore the nature of the temporal information that contributed to these results, predictions based on model auditory-nerve responses were compared to predictions based on the average rates of a population of cross-frequency coincidence detectors. These comparisons suggested that average response rate (count) of cross-frequency coincidence detectors did not effectively extract important temporal information from the auditory-nerve population response. Thus, the relative timing of action potentials across auditory-nerve fibers tuned to different frequencies was not the aspect of the temporal information that produced the trends in formant-frequency discrimination thresholds.

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