A Neural Edge-Detection Model for Enhanced Auditory Sensitivity in Modulated Noise

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 15 (NIPS 2002)

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Alon Fishbach, Bradford May


Psychophysical data suggest that temporal modulations of stimulus amplitude envelopes play a prominent role in the perceptual segregation of concurrent sounds. In particular, the detection of an unmodulated signal can be significantly improved by adding amplitude modulation to the spectral envelope of a competing masking noise. This perceptual phenomenon is known as “Comodulation Masking Release” (CMR). Despite the obvious influence of temporal structure on the perception of complex auditory scenes, the physiological mechanisms that contribute to CMR and auditory streaming are not well known. A recent physiological study by Nelken and colleagues has demonstrated an enhanced cortical representation of auditory signals in modulated noise. Our study evaluates these CMR-like response patterns from the perspective of a hypothetical auditory edge-detection neuron. It is shown that this simple neural model for the detection of amplitude transients can reproduce not only the physiological data of Nelken et al., but also, in light of previous results, a variety of physiological and psychoacoustical phenomena that are related to the perceptual segregation of concurrent sounds.