Single-tone intensity discrimination based on auditory-nerve rate responses in backgrounds of quiet, noise, and with stimulation of the crossed olivocochlear bundle

Raimond L. Winslow, Murray B. Sachs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We use simple statistical models of the firing patterns of high, medium, and low spontaneous rate auditory-nerve fibers to study mechanisms which determine the overall dynamic range of the auditory periphery. The models relate experimentally measured rate response properties of fibers with best frequency (BF) near 8.0 kHz to their ability to encode changes in BF tone level by changes in discharge rate in backgrounds of quiet and noise, with and without electrical stimulation of the crossed olivocochlear bundle (COCB). Application of the models to the BF tone rate responses of auditory-nerve fibers in backgrounds of quiet shows that optimum processing of the rate responses of fibers with BF near 8.0 kHz yields performance in the intensity discrimination task meeting or exceeding that of human subjects over an 80 dB range of levels. By defining a statistical measure of dynamic range, we confirm the results of Costalupes et al. (1984) demonstrating that masking noise shifts the dynamic range of auditory-nerve fibers to higher stimulus levels, thus preventing rate saturation. However, model analysis shows that masking noise also produces large reductions of dynamic range as well as large increases in the minimum intensity difference that can be encoded by the rate responses of single and ensembles of fibers. Electrical stimulation of the COCB can restore auditory-nerve fiber dynamic range and sensitivity to changes in BF tone level in noise backgrounds, in some cases to roughly that observed in backgrounds of quiet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-189
Number of pages25
JournalHearing Research
Volume35
Issue number2-3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 15 1988

Keywords

  • Crossed olivocochlear bundle
  • Dynamic range
  • Intensity discrimination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems

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