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J Neurophysiol. 1999 Jun;81(6):2662-74.

Responses of cochlear nucleus units in the chinchilla to iterated rippled noises: analysis of neural autocorrelograms.

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Parmly Hearing Institute, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60626, USA.


Temporal encoding of stimulus features related to the pitch of iterated rippled noises was studied for single units in the chinchilla cochlear nucleus. Unlike other periodic complex sounds that produce pitch, iterated rippled noises have neither periodic waveforms nor highly modulated envelopes. Infinitely iterated rippled noise (IIRN) is generated when wideband noise (WBN) is delayed (tau), attenuated, and then added to (+) or subtracted from (-) the undelayed WBN through positive feedback. The pitch of IIRN[+, tau, -1 dB] is at 1/tau, whereas the pitch of IIRN[-, tau, -1 dB] is at 1/2tau. Temporal responses of cochlear nucleus units were measured using neural autocorrelograms. Synchronous responses as shown by peaks in neural autocorrelograms that occur at time lags corresponding to the IIRN tau can be observed for both primarylike and chopper unit types. Comparison of the neural autocorrelograms in response to IIRN[+, tau, -1 dB] and IIRN[-, tau, -1 dB] indicates that the temporal discharge of primarylike units reflects the stimulus waveform fine structure, whereas the temporal discharge patterns of chopper units reflect the stimulus envelope. The pitch of IIRN[+/-, tau, -1 dB] can be accounted for by the temporal discharge patterns of primarylike units but not by the temporal discharge of chopper units. To quantify the temporal responses, the height of the peak in the neural autocorrelogram at a given time lag was measured as normalized rate. Although it is well documented that chopper units give larger synchronous responses than primarylike units to the fundamental frequency of periodic complex stimuli, the largest normalized rates in response to IIRN[+, tau, -1 dB] were obtained for primarylike units, not chopper units. The results suggest that if temporal encoding is important in pitch processing, then primarylike units are likely to be an important cochlear nucleus subsystem that carries the pitch-related information to higher auditory centers.

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