Stimulus pauses and perturbations differentially delay or promote the segregation of auditory objects: psychoacoustics and modeling
Osborn Popp, PO
Frontiers in Neuroscience
© 2017 Rankin, Osborn Popp and Rinzel. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Segregating distinct sound sources is fundamental for auditory perception, as in the cocktail party problem. In a process called the build-up of stream segregation, distinct sound sources that are perceptually integrated initially can be segregated into separate streams after several seconds. Previous research concluded that abrupt changes in the incoming sounds during build-up --- for example, a step change in location, loudness or timing --- reset the percept to integrated. Following this reset, the multisecond build-up process begins again. Neurophysiological recordings in auditory cortex (A1) show fast (subsecond) adaptation, but unified mechanistic explanations for the bias toward integration, multisecond build-up and resets remain elusive. Combining psychoacoustics and modeling, we show that initial unadapted A1 responses bias integration, that the slowness of build-up arises naturally from competition downstream, and that recovery of adaptation can explain resets. An early bias toward integrated perceptual interpretations arising from primary cortical stages that encode low-level features and feed into competition downstream could also explain similar phenomena in vision. Further, we report a previously overlooked class of perturbations that promote segregation rather than integration. Our results challenge current understanding for perturbation effects on the emergence of sound source segregation, leading to a new hypothesis for differential processing downstream of A1. Transient perturbations can momentarily redirect A1 responses as input to downstream competition units that favor segregation.
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Vol. 11, pp. 198 - 198