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Publication Detail
Brain Bases of Auditory Stimulus-Driven, Figure-Ground Segregation
  • Publication Type:
    Conference
  • Authors:
    Teki S, Chait M, Kumar S, von Kriegstein K, Griffiths TD
  • Publication date:
    2011
  • Name of conference:
    Annual meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
  • Conference start date:
    01/01/2011
Abstract
Auditory figure-ground segregation, listeners’ ability to selectively hear out a sound of interest from a background of competing sounds, is a fundamental aspect of scene analysis. In contrast to the disordered acoustic environment we experience during everyday listening, most studies of auditory segregation have used relatively simple, temporally regular signals. We developed a new figure-ground stimulus which incorporates stochastic variation of the figure and background that capture the rich spectrotemporal complexity of natural acoustic scenes. Figure and background signals overlap in spectrotemporal space, but vary in the statistics of fluctuation and the only way to extract the figure is by integrating the patterns over time and frequency. Our behavioral results demonstrate that human listeners are remarkably sensitive to the appearance of such figures. In a functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment, aimed at investigating pre-attentive, stimulus-driven, auditory segregation mechanisms, naïve subjects listened to these stimuli while performing an irrelevant task. Results demonstrate significant activations in the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) and the superior temporal sulcus related to bottom-up, stimulus-driven, figure-ground decomposition. We did not observe any significant activation in the primary auditory cortex. The IPS activation is consistent with accumulating evidence suggesting a role for the IPS in structuring sensory input and perceptual organization. Our results support a role for automatic, bottom-up mechanisms in the IPS in mediating stimulus-driven, auditory figure-ground segregation.
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