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J Acoust Soc Am. 2004 Oct;116(4 Pt 1):2173-86.

A phenomenological model of peripheral and central neural responses to amplitude-modulated tones.

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Department of Bioengineering and Neuroscience and Institute for Sensory Research, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York 13244, USA.


A phenomenological model with time-varying excitation and inhibition was developed to study possible neural mechanisms underlying changes in the representation of temporal envelopes along the auditory pathway. A modified version of an existing auditory-nerve model [Zhang et al., J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 109, 648-670 (2001)] was used to provide inputs to higher hypothetical processing centers. Model responses were compared directly to published physiological data at three levels: the auditory nerve, ventral cochlear nucleus, and inferior colliculus. Trends and absolute values of both average firing rate and synchrony to the modulation period were accurately predicted at each level for a wide range of stimulus modulation depths and modulation frequencies. The diversity of central physiological responses was accounted for with realistic variations of model parameters. Specifically, enhanced synchrony in the cochlear nucleus and rate-tuning to modulation frequency in the inferior colliculus were predicted by choosing appropriate relative strengths and time courses of excitatory and inhibitory inputs to postsynaptic model cells. The proposed model is fundamentally different than others that have been used to explain the representation of envelopes in the mammalian midbrain, and it provides a computational tool for testing hypothesized relationships between physiology and psychophysics.

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