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Electrophysiological and psychophysical asymmetries in sensitivity to interaural correlation steps

: Lüddemann, H.; Riedel, H.; Kollmeier, B.


Hearing research 256 (2009), No.1/2, pp.39-57
ISSN: 0378-5955
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IDMT ()

The binaural auditory system’s sensitivity to changes in the interaural cross correlation (IAC), as an indicator for the perceived spatial diffuseness of a sound, is of major importance for the ability to distinguish concurrent sound sources. In this article, we present electroencephalographical and corresponding psychophysical experiments with stepwise transitions of the IAC in continuously running noise.

Both the transient and sustained brain response, display electrophysiological correlates of specific binaural processing in humans. The transient late auditory evoked potentials (LAEP) systematically depend on the size of the IAC transition, the reference correlation preceding the transition, the direction of the transition and on unspecific context information from the stimulus sequence.

The psychophysical and electrophysiological data are characterized by two asymmetries. (1) Major asymmetry: for reference correlations of +1 and -1, psychoacoustical thresholds are comparatively lower, and the peak-to-peak-amplitudes of LAEP are larger than for a reference correlation of zero. (2) Minor asymmetry: for IAC transitions in the positive parameter range, perceptual thresholds are slightly better and peak-to-peak amplitudes are larger than in the negative range.
In all experimental conditions, LAEP amplitudes are linearly related to the dB scaled power ratio of correlated (N0) versus anticorrelated (N?) signal components. The voltage gain of LAEP per dB(N0/N?) closely corresponds to a constant perceptual distance between two correlations. We therefore suggest that activity in the auditory cortex and perceptual IAC sensitivity are better represented by the dB-scaled N0/N? power ratio than by the normalized IAC itself.