Author(s): Phillips DP
Abstract Share this page
Abstract Single auditory cortical neurons express their sensitivity to the amplitude of a preferred-frequency tone pulse as either a monotonic, saturating intensity profile or as a non-monotonic, bell-shaped intensity function. In the presence of continuous, wideband noise masking, the tone intensity profile is displaced toward higher tone levels. The magnitude of the tone threshold adjustments brought about by increments in noise level very closely match the elevations in noise amplitude. The mechanisms underlying the threshold adjustments likely include neural adaptation. This is because the tone threshold shifts seen in the spike count data are paralleled by spike latency data, and because recovery of tonal sensitivity following noise offset proceeds in a negatively-accelerating fashion. In some instances, the slope of the masked tone intensity profile is greater than that for unmasked tones. For masked tone levels evoking submaximal responses, this has the consequence that cortical responses to masked tones are somewhat more salient than those for unmasked tones of comparable suprathreshold level. These observations bolster our understanding of the psychophysics of noise-masking in normal listeners, and they provide a partial explanation of the difficulty shown by patients with temporal lobe lesions in discriminating signals in noise.
This article was published in Behav Brain Res
and referenced in Otolaryngology: Open Access