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
Antibiotics: New substances break bacterial resistance
12.11.2019 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
How the Zika virus can spread
11.11.2019 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
If you've ever tried to put several really strong, small cube magnets right next to each other on a magnetic board, you'll know that you just can't do it. What happens is that the magnets always arrange themselves in a column sticking out vertically from the magnetic board. Moreover, it's almost impossible to join several rows of these magnets together to form a flat surface. That's because magnets are dipolar. Equal poles repel each other, with the north pole of one magnet always attaching itself to the south pole of another and vice versa. This explains why they form a column with all the magnets aligned the same way.
Now, scientists at ETH Zurich have managed to create magnetic building blocks in the shape of cubes that - for the first time ever - can be joined together to...
Quantum-based communication and computation technologies promise unprecedented applications, such as unconditionally secure communications, ultra-precise...
In two experiments performed at the free-electron laser FLASH in Hamburg a cooperation led by physicists from the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear physics (MPIK) demonstrated strongly-driven nonlinear interaction of ultrashort extreme-ultraviolet (XUV) laser pulses with atoms and ions. The powerful excitation of an electron pair in helium was found to compete with the ultrafast decay, which temporarily may even lead to population inversion. Resonant transitions in doubly charged neon ions were shifted in energy, and observed by XUV-XUV pump-probe transient absorption spectroscopy.
An international team led by physicists from the MPIK reports on new results for efficient two-electron excitations in helium driven by strong and ultrashort...
An international research group has observed new quantum properties on an artificial giant atom and has now published its results in the high-ranking journal Nature Physics. The quantum system under investigation apparently has a memory - a new finding that could be used to build a quantum computer.
The research group, consisting of German, Swedish and Indian scientists, has investigated an artificial quantum system and found new properties.
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have reported a new mechanism to speed up the charging of lithium-ion...
05.11.2019 | Event News
30.10.2019 | Event News
02.10.2019 | Event News
12.11.2019 | Machine Engineering
12.11.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering
12.11.2019 | Physics and Astronomy