How the brain separates audio signals from noise

June 09, 2008

How are we able to follow a single conversation in the midst of a crowded and noisy room? Little is known about how the human brain accomplishes the seemingly simple task of extracting meaningful signals from noisy acoustic environments. In a new article published this week in the open-access journal PLoS Biology, Alexander Gutschalk and his colleagues provide an important advance towards solving this mystery by discovering the neural correlates of conscious auditory perception.

The researchers use magnetoencephalography (MEG) to record brain activity as human subjects detect target tones in a complex auditory scene consisting of distracting tones. They discover that the awareness of these sounds correlates with activity in high-level auditory regions in the brain, but not the initial cortical region where sound is processed. Because many previous neuroimaging studies have used simple stimuli in unnatural contexts, such as pure tones in an otherwise quiet environment, this novel study will influence future research investigations aimed at uncovering the neural mechanisms of conscious perception in natural and complex environments.
-end-
Citation: Gutschalk A, Micheyl C, Oxenham AJ (2008) Neural correlates of auditory perceptual awareness under informational masking. PLoS Biol 6(6): e138. 10.1371/journal.pbio.0060138

PLEASE ADD THE LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT: http://biology.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pbio.0060138

PRESS ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: http://www.plos.org/press/plbi-06-06-gutschalk.pdf

CONTACT:
Alexander Gutschalk
University of Heidelberg
Im Neuenheimer Feld 400
Heidelberg, 69120
Germany
++49-6221-567505
alexander.gutschalk@med.uni-heidelberg.de

PLEASE MENTION THE OPEN-ACCESS JOURNAL PLoS BIOLOGY (www.plosbiology.org) AS THE SOURCE FOR THESE ARTICLES AND PROVIDE A LINK TO THE FREELY-AVAILABLE TEXT. PLEASE NOTE: THE CORRECT CITATION IS PLoS BIOLOGY, NOT PUBLIC LIBRARY OF SCIENCE BIOLOGY. THANK YOU.

All works published in PLoS Biology are open access. Everything is immediately available--to read, download, redistribute, include in databases, and otherwise use--without cost to anyone, anywhere, subject only to the condition that the original authorship and source are properly attributed. Copyright is retained by the authors. The Public Library of Science uses the Creative Commons Attribution License.

PLOS

Related Brain Articles from Brightsurf:

Glioblastoma nanomedicine crosses into brain in mice, eradicates recurring brain cancer
A new synthetic protein nanoparticle capable of slipping past the nearly impermeable blood-brain barrier in mice could deliver cancer-killing drugs directly to malignant brain tumors, new research from the University of Michigan shows.

Children with asymptomatic brain bleeds as newborns show normal brain development at age 2
A study by UNC researchers finds that neurodevelopmental scores and gray matter volumes at age two years did not differ between children who had MRI-confirmed asymptomatic subdural hemorrhages when they were neonates, compared to children with no history of subdural hemorrhage.

New model of human brain 'conversations' could inform research on brain disease, cognition
A team of Indiana University neuroscientists has built a new model of human brain networks that sheds light on how the brain functions.

Human brain size gene triggers bigger brain in monkeys
Dresden and Japanese researchers show that a human-specific gene causes a larger neocortex in the common marmoset, a non-human primate.

Unique insight into development of the human brain: Model of the early embryonic brain
Stem cell researchers from the University of Copenhagen have designed a model of an early embryonic brain.

An optical brain-to-brain interface supports information exchange for locomotion control
Chinese researchers established an optical BtBI that supports rapid information transmission for precise locomotion control, thus providing a proof-of-principle demonstration of fast BtBI for real-time behavioral control.

Transplanting human nerve cells into a mouse brain reveals how they wire into brain circuits
A team of researchers led by Pierre Vanderhaeghen and Vincent Bonin (VIB-KU Leuven, Université libre de Bruxelles and NERF) showed how human nerve cells can develop at their own pace, and form highly precise connections with the surrounding mouse brain cells.

Brain scans reveal how the human brain compensates when one hemisphere is removed
Researchers studying six adults who had one of their brain hemispheres removed during childhood to reduce epileptic seizures found that the remaining half of the brain formed unusually strong connections between different functional brain networks, which potentially help the body to function as if the brain were intact.

Alcohol byproduct contributes to brain chemistry changes in specific brain regions
Study of mouse models provides clear implications for new targets to treat alcohol use disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Scientists predict the areas of the brain to stimulate transitions between different brain states
Using a computer model of the brain, Gustavo Deco, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, and Josephine Cruzat, a member of his team, together with a group of international collaborators, have developed an innovative method published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Sept.

Read More: Brain News and Brain Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.