Discriminability of vowel representations in cat auditory-nerve fibers after acoustic trauma

Roger L. Miller, Barbara M. Calhoun, Eric D. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


This paper attempts to connect deficits seen in the neural representation of speech with perceptual deficits. Responses of auditory- nerve fibers were studied in cats exposed to acoustic trauma. Four synthetic steady-state vowels were used as test signals; these stimuli are identical, except that the second formant (F2) resonator in the synthesizer was set to 1.4, 115, 1.7, or 2 kHz, producing four spectra that differ mainly in the vicinity of the F2 frequency. These stimuli were presented to a large population (523) of auditory-nerve fibers in four cats with sloping high- frequency threshold shifts that reached 50-70 dB at 2-4 kHz. In normal animals, May et al. [Auditory Neurosci. 3, 135-162 (1996)] showed previously that the discharge rates of fibers with best frequencies near the F2 frequencies provide enough information to allow discrimination of these stimuli at the performance levels shown by cats in behavioral experiments. Here it is shown that, after acoustic trauma, there is essentially no rate information which would allow the vowels with different F2 frequencies to be discriminated. However, information that could allow discrimination remains in the temporal (phase-locked) aspects of the responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-325
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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