Holger Schulze and his team found a surprising answer: the auditory system can discriminate voices according to their time structure. Only signals from the chosen voice will be processed, while processing of all the other voices is inhibited: the winner takes it all.
Everybody who attends a cocktail party from time to time might have realized the amazing ability of our auditory system to be able to listen to and understand somebody speaking while many other people are talking loudly at the same time. This so-called "cocktail party phenomenon" is based on the ability of the human auditory system to decompose the acoustic world into discrete objects of perception. It was originally believed that the major acoustic cue the auditory system uses to solve this task is directional information of the sound source, but even though localisation of different sound sources with two ears improves the performance, it can be achieved monaurally, for example in telephone conversations, where no directional information is available.
Scientists from the Leibniz-Institute for Neurobiology in Magdeburg, and the Universities of Ulm, Newcastle and Erlangen, have now found a neuronal mechanism in the auditory system that is able to solve the task based on the analysis of the temporal fine structure of the acoustic scene. The idea is that different speakers have different temporal fine structures in their voiced speech and that such signals are represented in different areas of the auditory cortex according to this different time structure. By means of a so-called "winner-take-all" algorithm one of these representations then gains control over all other representations.
Their findings led us to a deeper understanding of how the parcellation of sensory input from perceptually distinct objects is realised in the brain, and may, for example, help to improve hearing aids for which cocktail party-like situations are still a major problem.
Press release to accompany the article "Auditory Cortical Contrast Enhancing by Global Winner-Take-All Inhibitory Interactions" by Simone Kurt, Anke Deutscher, John M. Crook, Frank W. Ohl, Eike Budinger, Christoph K. Moeller, Henning Scheich, and Holger Schulze to appear in PLoS ONE on Wednesday, March 5.
Dr. Constanze Seidenbecher | idw
WPI team grows heart tissue on spinach leaves
23.03.2017 | Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Inactivate vaccines faster and more effectively using electron beams
23.03.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences
23.03.2017 | Life Sciences