Brainstem encoding of short voice onset times in natural speech
AuthorClarey, J. C.; Paolini, A. G.; Clark, Graeme M.
Source TitleProceedings of the Australian Neuroscience Society
Document TypeConference Item
CitationsClarey, J. C., Paolini, A. G., & Clark, G. M. (2001). Brainstem encoding of short voice onset times in natural speech. In Proceedings of the Australian Neuroscience Society, Brisbane, Qld.
Access StatusOpen Access
This is an abstract of a paper from Proceedings of the Australian Neuroscience Society 2001 published by Australian Neuroscience Society. This version is reproduced with the permission of publisher.
An auditory nerve study has shown that short voice onset times (VOTs) in synthetic consonant-vowel syllables are not accurately encoded by the fibres' discharge rate. We have re-examined this issue within the ventral Cochlear nucleus (VCN), using natural speech and a fine-grain analysis of single unit responses. We recorded extracellularly from 93 VCN neurons in rats anaesthetised with urethane (2.5 g/kg ip). After identifying a cell's response type and best frequency (BF), 3 syllables spoken by a male were presented at double rate and 3 intensities (/bεt/, /dεt/, and /gεt/, at 45, 65, and 75 dB SPL). These three syllables differ in their VOTs (the interval between consonant release and the onset of glottal pulses associated with voicing) due to the different points of articulation of the three initial stop consonants. In many neurons (particularly onset cells), these syllables evoked a clear response to consonant release, followed by an interval of inactivity or reduced activity before the periodic response to the vowel's voicing frequency commenced. This interval of reduced or no activity corresponded to a given syllable's VOT. The responses of all cells (BFs: 0.9-19 kHz) to the 9 different syllable-SPL combinations were plotted as Grand Average post-stimulus time histograms. In 8/9 combinations, syllable onset was associated with a statistically significant peak in activity and the next significant peak in discharge rate occurred at the time of voice onset (± I ms). These results indicate that the prominent responses to consonant release and voice onset, produced by the synchronous firing of neurons with a wide range of BFs, accurately encode short VOTs.
Keywordscochlear implant; otolaryngology; otology; auditory nerve study
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