Auditory frequency-following response: A neurophysiological measure for studying the “cocktail-party problem”
How do we recognize what one person is saying when others are speaking at the same time? The “cocktail-party problem” proposed by Cherry (1953) has puzzled scientific societies for half a century. This puzzle will not be solved without using appropriate neurophysiological investigation that should satisfy the following four essential requirements: (1) certain critical speech characteristics related to speech intelligibility are recorded; (2) neural responses to different speech sources are differentiated; (3) neural correlates of bottom-up binaural unmasking of responses to target speech are measurable; (4) neural correlates of attentional top-down unmasking of target speech are measurable. Before speech signals reach the cerebral cortex, some critical acoustic features are represented in subcortical structures by the frequency-following responses (FFRs), which are sustained evoked potentials based on precisely phase-locked responses of neuron populations to low-to-middle-frequency periodical acoustical stimuli. This review summarizes previous studies on FFRs associated with each of the four requirements and suggests that FFRs are useful for studying the “cocktail-party problem”.
Posted on June 14, 2011, in Research and tagged Auditory aging, Binaural interaction, Cocktail-party problem, frequency-following responses, inferior colliculus, Lateral nucleus of the amygdala, Perceptual cues, phase locking, selective attention, Unmasking of speech. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.