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Publication Detail
Brain Responses Track Patterns in Sound
  • Publication Type:
  • Authors:
    Southwell R
  • Date awarded:
  • Pagination:
    1, 203
  • Supervisors:
    Chait M,Friston K
  • Status:
  • Awarding institution:
    UCL (University College London)
  • Language:
  • Date Submitted:
  • Keywords:
    Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience, Neuroscience, Hearing
This thesis uses specifically structured sound sequences, with electroencephalography (EEG) recording and behavioural tasks, to understand how the brain forms and updates a model of the auditory world. Experimental chapters 3-7 address different effects arising from statistical predictability, stimulus repetition and surprise. Stimuli comprised tone sequences, with frequencies varying in regular or random patterns. In Chapter 3, EEG data demonstrate fast recognition of predictable patterns, shown by an increase in responses to regular relative to random sequences. Behavioural experiments investigate attentional capture by stimulus structure, suggesting that regular sequences are easier to ignore. Responses to repetitive stimulation generally exhibit suppression, thought to form a building block of regularity learning. However, the patterns used in this thesis show the opposite effect, where predictable patterns show a strongly enhanced brain response, compared to frequency-matched random sequences. Chapter 4 presents a study which reconciles auditory sequence predictability and repetition in a single paradigm. Results indicate a system for automatic predictability monitoring which is distinct from, but concurrent with, repetition suppression. The brain’s internal model can be investigated via the response to rule violations. Chapters 5 and 6 present behavioural and EEG experiments where violations are inserted in the sequences. Outlier tones within regular sequences evoked a larger response than matched outliers in random sequences. However, this effect was not present when the violation comprised a silent gap. Chapter 7 concerns the ability of the brain to update an existing model. Regular patterns transitioned to a different rule, keeping the frequency content constant. Responses show a period of adjustment to the rule change, followed by a return to tracking the predictability of the sequence. These findings are consistent with the notion that the brain continually maintains a detailed representation of ongoing sensory input and that this representation shapes the processing of incoming information.
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