Using individual differences to test the role of temporal and place cues in coding frequency modulation

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The question of how frequency is coded in the peripheral auditory system remains unresolved. Previous research has suggested that slow rates of frequency modulation (FM) of a low carrier frequency may be coded via phase-locked temporal information in the auditory nerve, whereas FM at higher rates and/or high carrier frequencies may be coded via a rate-place (tonotopic) code. This hypothesis was tested in a cohort of 100 young normal-hearing listeners by comparing individual sensitivity to slow-rate (1-Hz) and fast-rate (20-Hz) FM at a carrier frequency of 500 Hz with independent measures of phase-locking (using dynamic interaural time difference, ITD, discrimination), level coding (using amplitude modulation, AM, detection), and frequency selectivity (using forward-masking patterns). All FM and AM thresholds were highly correlated with each other. However, no evidence was obtained for stronger correlations between measures thought to reflect phase-locking (e.g., slow-rate FM and ITD sensitivity), or between measures thought to reflect tonotopic coding (fast-rate FM and forward-masking patterns). The results suggest that either psychoacoustic performance in young normal-hearing listeners is not limited by peripheral coding, or that similar peripheral mechanisms limit both high- and low-rate FM coding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3093-3104
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015

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