Human pitch detectors are tuned on a fine scale, but are perceptually accessed on a coarse scale

Eva R M Joosten, Peter Neri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Single neurons in auditory cortex display highly selective spectrotemporal properties: their receptive fields modulate over small fractions of an octave and integrate across temporal windows of 100-200 ms. We investigated how these characteristics impact auditory behavior. Human observers were asked to detect a specific sound frequency masked by broadband noise; we adopted an experimental design which required the engagement of frequency-selective mechanisms to perform above chance. We then applied psychophysical reverse correlation to derive spectrotemporal perceptual filters for the assigned task. We were able to expose signatures of neuronal-like spectrotemporal tuning on a scale of 1/10 octave and 50-100 ms, but detailed modeling of our results showed that observers were not able to rely on the explicit output of these channels. Instead, human observers pooled from a large bank of highly selective channels via a weighting envelope poorly tuned for frequency (on a scale of 1.5 octave) with sluggish temporal dynamics, followed by a highly nonlinear max-like operation. We conclude that human detection of specific frequencies embedded within complex sounds suffers from a high degree of intrinsic spectrotemporal uncertainty, resulting in low efficiency values (<1 %) for this perceptual ability. Signatures of the underlying neural circuitry can be exposed, but there does not appear to be a direct line for accessing individual neural channels on a fine scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-482
Number of pages18
JournalBiological Cybernetics
Volume106
Issue number8-9
Early online date2 Aug 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012

Fingerprint

Acoustic waves
Detectors
Acoustic noise
Design of experiments
Neurons
Auditory Cortex
Aptitude
Tuning
Uncertainty
Noise
Research Design
Efficiency

Keywords

  • acoustic stimulation
  • auditory pathways
  • humans
  • models, neurological
  • neurons
  • pitch perception
  • noise image classification
  • computational modeling
  • psychophysics
  • MAX uncertainty model

Cite this

Human pitch detectors are tuned on a fine scale, but are perceptually accessed on a coarse scale. / Joosten, Eva R M; Neri, Peter.

In: Biological Cybernetics, Vol. 106, No. 8-9, 10.2012, p. 465-482.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Joosten, Eva R M ; Neri, Peter. / Human pitch detectors are tuned on a fine scale, but are perceptually accessed on a coarse scale. In: Biological Cybernetics. 2012 ; Vol. 106, No. 8-9. pp. 465-482.
@article{2ec83532d7fb4b26a134e3a8d3c81afc,
title = "Human pitch detectors are tuned on a fine scale, but are perceptually accessed on a coarse scale",
abstract = "Single neurons in auditory cortex display highly selective spectrotemporal properties: their receptive fields modulate over small fractions of an octave and integrate across temporal windows of 100-200 ms. We investigated how these characteristics impact auditory behavior. Human observers were asked to detect a specific sound frequency masked by broadband noise; we adopted an experimental design which required the engagement of frequency-selective mechanisms to perform above chance. We then applied psychophysical reverse correlation to derive spectrotemporal perceptual filters for the assigned task. We were able to expose signatures of neuronal-like spectrotemporal tuning on a scale of 1/10 octave and 50-100 ms, but detailed modeling of our results showed that observers were not able to rely on the explicit output of these channels. Instead, human observers pooled from a large bank of highly selective channels via a weighting envelope poorly tuned for frequency (on a scale of 1.5 octave) with sluggish temporal dynamics, followed by a highly nonlinear max-like operation. We conclude that human detection of specific frequencies embedded within complex sounds suffers from a high degree of intrinsic spectrotemporal uncertainty, resulting in low efficiency values (<1 {\%}) for this perceptual ability. Signatures of the underlying neural circuitry can be exposed, but there does not appear to be a direct line for accessing individual neural channels on a fine scale.",
keywords = "acoustic stimulation, auditory pathways, humans, models, neurological, neurons, pitch perception, noise image classification, computational modeling, psychophysics, MAX uncertainty model",
author = "Joosten, {Eva R M} and Peter Neri",
year = "2012",
month = "10",
doi = "10.1007/s00422-012-0510-x",
language = "English",
volume = "106",
pages = "465--482",
journal = "Biological Cybernetics",
issn = "0340-1200",
publisher = "Springer Verlag",
number = "8-9",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Human pitch detectors are tuned on a fine scale, but are perceptually accessed on a coarse scale

AU - Joosten, Eva R M

AU - Neri, Peter

PY - 2012/10

Y1 - 2012/10

N2 - Single neurons in auditory cortex display highly selective spectrotemporal properties: their receptive fields modulate over small fractions of an octave and integrate across temporal windows of 100-200 ms. We investigated how these characteristics impact auditory behavior. Human observers were asked to detect a specific sound frequency masked by broadband noise; we adopted an experimental design which required the engagement of frequency-selective mechanisms to perform above chance. We then applied psychophysical reverse correlation to derive spectrotemporal perceptual filters for the assigned task. We were able to expose signatures of neuronal-like spectrotemporal tuning on a scale of 1/10 octave and 50-100 ms, but detailed modeling of our results showed that observers were not able to rely on the explicit output of these channels. Instead, human observers pooled from a large bank of highly selective channels via a weighting envelope poorly tuned for frequency (on a scale of 1.5 octave) with sluggish temporal dynamics, followed by a highly nonlinear max-like operation. We conclude that human detection of specific frequencies embedded within complex sounds suffers from a high degree of intrinsic spectrotemporal uncertainty, resulting in low efficiency values (<1 %) for this perceptual ability. Signatures of the underlying neural circuitry can be exposed, but there does not appear to be a direct line for accessing individual neural channels on a fine scale.

AB - Single neurons in auditory cortex display highly selective spectrotemporal properties: their receptive fields modulate over small fractions of an octave and integrate across temporal windows of 100-200 ms. We investigated how these characteristics impact auditory behavior. Human observers were asked to detect a specific sound frequency masked by broadband noise; we adopted an experimental design which required the engagement of frequency-selective mechanisms to perform above chance. We then applied psychophysical reverse correlation to derive spectrotemporal perceptual filters for the assigned task. We were able to expose signatures of neuronal-like spectrotemporal tuning on a scale of 1/10 octave and 50-100 ms, but detailed modeling of our results showed that observers were not able to rely on the explicit output of these channels. Instead, human observers pooled from a large bank of highly selective channels via a weighting envelope poorly tuned for frequency (on a scale of 1.5 octave) with sluggish temporal dynamics, followed by a highly nonlinear max-like operation. We conclude that human detection of specific frequencies embedded within complex sounds suffers from a high degree of intrinsic spectrotemporal uncertainty, resulting in low efficiency values (<1 %) for this perceptual ability. Signatures of the underlying neural circuitry can be exposed, but there does not appear to be a direct line for accessing individual neural channels on a fine scale.

KW - acoustic stimulation

KW - auditory pathways

KW - humans

KW - models, neurological

KW - neurons

KW - pitch perception

KW - noise image classification

KW - computational modeling

KW - psychophysics

KW - MAX uncertainty model

U2 - 10.1007/s00422-012-0510-x

DO - 10.1007/s00422-012-0510-x

M3 - Article

C2 - 22854977

VL - 106

SP - 465

EP - 482

JO - Biological Cybernetics

JF - Biological Cybernetics

SN - 0340-1200

IS - 8-9

ER -