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Temporal Pitch Sensitivity in an Animal Model: Psychophysics and Scalp Recordings

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Cochlear implant (CI) users show limited sensitivity to the temporal pitch conveyed by electric stimulation, contributing to impaired perception of music and of speech in noise. Neurophysiological studies in cats suggest that this limitation is due, in part, to poor transmission of the temporal fine structure (TFS) by the brainstem pathways that are activated by electrical cochlear stimulation. It remains unknown, however, how that neural limit might influence perception in the same animal model. For that reason, we developed non-invasive psychophysical and electrophysiological measures of temporal (i.e., non-spectral) pitch processing in the cat. Normal-hearing (NH) cats were presented with acoustic pulse trains consisting of band-limited harmonic complexes that simulated CI stimulation of the basal cochlea while removing cochlear place-of-excitation cues. In the psychophysical procedure, trained cats detected changes from a base pulse rate to a higher pulse rate. In the scalp-recording procedure, the cortical-evoked acoustic change complex (ACC) and brainstem-generated frequency following response (FFR) were recorded simultaneously in sedated cats for pulse trains that alternated between the base and higher rates. The range of perceptual sensitivity to temporal pitch broadly resembled that of humans but was shifted to somewhat higher rates. The ACC largely paralleled these perceptual patterns, validating its use as an objective measure of temporal pitch sensitivity. The phase-locked FFR, in contrast, showed strong brainstem encoding for all tested pulse rates. These measures demonstrate the cat's perceptual sensitivity to pitch in the absence of cochlear-place cues and may be valuable for evaluating neural mechanisms of temporal pitch perception in the feline animal model of stimulation by a CI or novel auditory prostheses.
Journal: Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
ISSN: 1525-3961
Issue: 4
Volume: 23
Pages: 491 - 512
Publication year:2022