New paper in press in Cere­bral Cor­tex: Wöst­mann et al. on ignor­ing degrad­ed speech

Audi­to­ry Cognition’s own Malte Wöst­mann is in press in Cere­bral Cor­tex with his lat­est offer­ing on how atten­tion­al con­trol man­i­fests in alpha pow­er changes: Ignor­ing speech can be ben­e­fi­cial (if com­pre­hend­ing speech poten­tial­ly detracts from anoth­er task), and we here show how this change in lis­ten­ing goals turns around the pat­tern of alpha-pow­er changes with chang­ing speech degra­da­tion. (We will update as the paper becomes avail­able online.)

Wöst­mann, M., Lim, S.J., & Obleser, J. (2017). The human neur­al alpha response to speech is a proxy of atten­tion­al con­trol. Cere­bral Cor­tex. In press.

 

Abstract
Human alpha (~10 Hz) oscil­la­to­ry pow­er is a promi­nent neur­al mark­er of cog­ni­tive effort. When lis­ten­ers attempt to process and retain acousti­cal­ly degrad­ed speech, alpha pow­er enhances. It is unclear whether these alpha mod­u­la­tions reflect the degree of acoustic degra­da­tion per se or the degra­da­tion-dri­ven demand to a listener’s atten­tion­al con­trol. Using an irrel­e­vant-speech par­a­digm in elec­troen­cephalog­ra­phy (EEG), the cur­rent exper­i­ment demon­strates that the neur­al alpha response to speech is a sur­pris­ing­ly clear proxy of top-down con­trol, entire­ly dri­ven by the lis­ten­ing goals of attend­ing ver­sus ignor­ing degrad­ed speech. While (n=23) lis­ten­ers retained the ser­i­al order of 9 to-be-recalled dig­its, one to-be-ignored sen­tence was pre­sent­ed. Dis­tractibil­i­ty of the to-be-ignored sen­tence para­met­ri­cal­ly var­ied in acoustic detail (noise-vocod­ing), with more acoustic detail of dis­tract­ing speech increas­ing­ly dis­rupt­ing lis­ten­ers’ ser­i­al mem­o­ry recall. Where pre­vi­ous stud­ies had observed decreas­es in pari­etal and audi­to­ry alpha pow­er with more acoustic detail (of tar­get speech), alpha pow­er here showed the oppo­site pat­tern and increased with more acoustic detail in the speech dis­trac­tor. In sum, the neur­al alpha response reflects almost exclu­sive­ly a listener’s exer­tion of atten­tion­al con­trol, which is deci­sive for whether more acoustic detail facil­i­tates com­pre­hen­sion (of attend­ed speech) or enhances dis­trac­tion (of ignored speech).

07. March 2017 by Jonas
Categories: Adaptive Control, Attention, Auditory Cortex, Auditory Neuroscience, Auditory Perception, Auditory Speech Processing, Degraded Acoustics, EEG / MEG, Evoked Activity, Executive Functions, Neural Oscillations, Noise-Vocoded Speech, Papers, Perception, Psychology, Publications, Speech | Comments Off on New paper in press in Cere­bral Cor­tex: Wöst­mann et al. on ignor­ing degrad­ed speech