Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Humans have more distinctive hearing than animals

01.04.2008
Do humans hear better than animals? It is known that various species of land and water-based living creatures are capable of hearing some lower and higher frequencies than humans are capable of detecting.

However, scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and elsewhere have now for the first time demonstrated how the reactions of single neurons give humans the capability of detecting fine differences in frequencies better than animals.

They did this by utilizing a technique for recording the activity of single neurons in the auditory cortex while subjects were exposed to sound stimuli. The auditory cortex has a central role in the perception of sounds by the brain.

Current knowledge on the auditory cortex was largely based on earlier studies that traced neural activity in animals while they were exposed to sounds. And while such studies have supplied invaluable information regarding sound processing in the auditory system, they could not shed light on the human auditory system’s own distinctive attributes.

... more about:
»auditory »frequencies »neural »neurons

Experimental study of neural activity in the human auditory cortex has been limited until now to non-invasive techniques that gave only a crude picture of how the brain responds to sounds. But recently, investigators from the Hebrew University, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and the Weizmann Institute of Science were successful in recording activity of single neurons in the auditory cortex while the subjects were presented with auditory stimuli. They did this by utilizing an opportunity provided during an innovative and complicated clinical procedure, which traces abnormal neural activity in order to improve the success of surgical treatment of intractable epilepsy,

The researchers included Prof. Israel Nelken of the Department of Neurobiology at the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Prof. Itzhak Fried from UCLA and Tel Aviv Medical Center, and Prof. Rafi Malach of the Weizmann Institute of Science, together with their students Roy Mukamel and Yael Bitterman. Their work was described in an article appearing in the journal Nature.

In tests measuring response to artificial sounds, the researchers found that neurons in the human auditory cortex responded to specific frequencies with unexpected precision. Frequency differences as small as a quarter of a tone (in western music, the smallest interval is half a tone) could be reliably detected from individual responses of single neurons.

Such resolution exceeds that typically found in the auditory cortex of other mammalian species (besides, perhaps, bats, which make unique use of their auditory system), serving as a possible correlate of the finding that the human auditory system can discriminate between frequencies better than animals. The result suggests that the neural representation of frequency in the human brain has unique features.

Interestingly, when the patients in the study were presented with “real-world” sounds – including dialogues, music (from "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" soundtrack) and background noise – the neurons exhibited complex activity patterns which could not be explained based solely on the frequency selectivity of the same neurons. This phenomenon has been shown in animal studies but never before in humans.

Thus, it can be seen that in contrast to the artificial sounds, behaviorally relevant sounds such as speech and music engage additional, context-dependant processing mechanisms in the human auditory cortex.

Jerry Barach | Hebrew University
Further information:
http://www.huji.ac.il

Further reports about: auditory frequencies neural neurons

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers invent tiny, light-powered wires to modulate brain's electrical signals

21.02.2018 | Life Sciences

The “Holy Grail” of peptide chemistry: Making peptide active agents available orally

21.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Atomic structure of ultrasound material not what anyone expected

21.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>