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Int J Psychophysiol. 2007 Aug;65(2):152-61. Epub 2007 May 4.

Stimulus intensity affects early sensory processing: sound intensity modulates auditory evoked gamma-band activity in human EEG.

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Department of Biological Psychology, Otto-von-Guericke University of Magdeburg, P.O. Box 4120, 39016 Magdeburg, Germany.


We studied the effect of different sound intensities on the auditory evoked gamma-band response (GBR). Previous studies observed oscillatory gamma activity in the auditory cortex of animals and humans. For the visual modality, it has been demonstrated that the GBR can be modulated by top-down (attention, memory) as well as bottom-up factors (stimulus properties). Therefore, we expected to find a sound intensity modulation for the auditory GBR. 21 healthy participants without hearing deficits were investigated in a forced-choice discrimination task. Sinusoidal tones were presented at three systematically varied sound intensities (30, 45, 60 dB hearing level). The results of the auditory evoked potentials were predominantly consistent with previous studies. Furthermore, we observed an augmentation of the evoked GBR with increasing sound intensity. The analysis indicated that this intensity difference in the GBR amplitude most likely arises from increased phase-locking. The results demonstrate a distinct dependency between sound intensity and gamma-band oscillations. Future experiments that investigate the relationship between auditory evoked GBRs and higher cognitive processes should therefore select stimuli with an adequate sound intensity and control this variable to avoid confounding effects. In addition, it seems that gamma-band activity is more sensitive to exogenous stimulus parameters than evoked potentials.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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