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Exp Brain Res. 2003 Dec;153(4):405-17. Epub 2003 Sep 9.

The psychophysics and physiology of comodulation masking release.

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Centre for the Neural Basis of Hearing, The Physiological Laboratory, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EG, UK.


The ability to detect auditory signals from background noise may be enhanced by the addition of energy in frequency regions well removed from the frequency of the signal. However, it is important that this energy is amplitude-modulated in a coherent way across frequencies, i.e. comodulated. This enhancement of signal detectability is known as comodulation masking release (CMR), and in this review we show that CMR is largest if: (1) the total masker's bandwidth is large, (2) the modulation frequency is low, (3) the modulation depth is high, (4) the envelope is regular and, (5) the masker's spectrum level is high. Possible physiological correlates of CMR have been found at different levels of the auditory pathway. Current hypotheses for the underlying physiological mechanisms, including wide-band inhibition or the disruption of masker modulation envelope response, are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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