Desynchronizing responses to correlated noise

A mechanism for binaural masking level differences at the inferior colliculus

Alan R. Palmer*, Dan Jiang, David Mcalpine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We examined the adequacy of decorrelation of the responses to dichotic noise as an explanation for the binaural masking level difference (BMLD). The responses of 48 low-frequency neurons in the inferior colliculus of anesthetized guinea pigs were recorded to binaurally presented noise with various degrees of interaural correlation and to interaurally correlated noise in the presence of 500-Hz tones in either zero or π interaural phase. In response to fully correlated noise, neurons' responses were modulated with interaural delay, showing quasiperiodic noise delay functions (NDFs) with a central peak and side peaks, separated by intervals roughly equivalent to the period of the neuron's best frequency. For noise with zero interaural correlation (independent noises presented to each ear), neurons were insensitive to the interaural delay. Their NDFs were unmodulated, with the majority showing a level of activity approximately equal to the mean of the peaks and troughs of the NDF obtained with fully correlated noise. Partial decorrelation of the noise resulted in NDFs that were, in general, intermediate between the fully correlated and fully decorrelated noise. Presenting 500-Hz tones simultaneously with fully correlated noise also had the effect of demodulating the NDFs. In the case of tones with zero interaural phase, this demodulation appeared to be a saturation process, raising the discharge at all noise delays to that at the largest peak in the NDF. In the majority of neurons, presenting the tones in π phase had a similar effect on the NDFs to decorrelating the noise; the response was demodulated toward the mean of the peaks and troughs of the NDF. Thus the effect of added tones on the responses of delay-sensitive inferior colliculus neurons to noise could be accounted for by a desynchronizing effect. This result is entirely consistent with cross-correlation models of the BMLD. However, in some neurons, the effects of an added tone on the NDF appeared more extreme than the effect of decorrelating the noise, suggesting the possibility of additional inhibitory influences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)722-734
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Volume81
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

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