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
Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences