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fMRI Linguistics Papers Publications Speech

New paper in Neu­roIm­age by Scharinger, Hen­ry, & Obleser [UPDATED]

A new paper is about to appear in Neu­roim­age on

Acoustic cue selec­tion and dis­crim­i­na­tion under degra­da­tion: Dif­fer­en­tial con­tri­bu­tions of the infe­ri­or pari­etal and pos­te­ri­or tem­po­ral cortices

by Math­ias Scharinger, Mol­ly J. Hen­ry, Jonas Obleser

Cat­e­go­riz­ing sounds is vital for adap­tive human behav­ior. Accord­ing­ly, chang­ing lis­ten­ing sit­u­a­tions (exter­nal noise or periph­er­al hear­ing loss in aging) that may be accom­pa­nied by changes in dis­crim­inabil­i­ty, require lis­ten­ers to flex­i­bly adjust their cat­e­go­riza­tion strate­gies, some­times by changes in uti­liz­ing avail­able acoustic cues.
In this func­tion­al Mag­net­ic Res­o­nance Imag­ing (fMRI) study, we inves­ti­gate the cat­e­go­riza­tion of nov­el, non-speech audi­to­ry stim­uli that var­ied in over­all dis­crim­inabil­i­ty. More­over, we manip­u­late the rel­a­tive infor­ma­tive­ness of a dura­tion ver­sus a spec­tral-peak cue by adding spec­tral degra­da­tion in the mid­dle of the exper­i­ment. The results demon­strate dif­fer­ent roles of tem­po­ral and pari­etal brain areas for audi­to­ry cat­e­go­riza­tion: Tem­po­ral cor­tex acti­va­tion, in par­tic­u­lar in pos­te­ri­or parts of the right supe­ri­or tem­po­ral gyrus, scaled with dis­crim­inabil­i­ty, while left pari­etal cor­tex acti­va­tion was asso­ci­at­ed with changes in cue uti­liza­tion after the appli­ca­tion of spec­tral degradation.
This work extends pre­vi­ous research on audi­to­ry cat­e­go­riza­tion. Impor­tant­ly, the involve­ment of the left infe­ri­or pari­etal lob­ule in changes of cue uti­liza­tion sup­ports its role in domain-gen­er­al process­es that sup­port cat­e­go­riza­tion. Fur­ther, the sen­si­tiv­i­ty of the right pos­te­ri­or supe­ri­or tem­po­ral gyrus to stim­u­lus dis­crim­inabil­i­ty adds to pre­vi­ous find­ings regard­ing its role in audi­to­ry processing. 
[UPDATE] Link added.


  • Scharinger M1, Hen­ry MJ2, Obleser J2. Acoustic cue selec­tion and dis­crim­i­na­tion under degra­da­tion: Dif­fer­en­tial con­tri­bu­tions of the infe­ri­or pari­etal and pos­te­ri­or tem­po­ral cor­tices. Neu­roim­age. 2015 Feb 1;106:373–81. PMID: 25481793. [Open with Read]
Auditory Cortex Papers Publications

Obleser & Eis­ner in Trends Cogn Sci (in press) available

My year in sci­ence 2008 finds a sat­is­fy­ing end­ing by see­ing the fruits of my col­league Dr. Frank Eisner’s (cur­rent­ly ICN / UCL) and my own year­long efforts online.

Our opin­ion piece on how the prob­lem of pre-lex­i­cal abstrac­tion of speech in struc­tures of the audi­to­ry cor­tex should be best approached is final­ly avail­able as a beau­ti­ful and handy pre-print from Trends in Cog­ni­tive Sci­ences.

As a goody, I quote from the con­clu­sions rather than the open­ly avail­able abstract:

Behav­iour­al inves­ti­ga­tions in speech sci­ences and com­pu­ta­tion­al mod­el­ling have led to a detailed under­stand­ing of how the speech per­cep­tion sys­tem can be con­cep­tu­alised. While this type of research can­not by itself pro­duce a neu­roanatom­i­cal mod­el of speech pro­cess­ing, it should guide neu­ro­sci­en­tif­ic inves­ti­ga­tions by pro­vid­ing a the­o­ret­i­cal framework.

Using the cog­ni­tive sub­trac­tion method, func­tion­al neu­roimag­ing stud­ies have broad­ly defined the neu­roanato­my of pre-lex­i­cal pro­cess­ing. Mul­ti­vari­ate neu­roimag­ing tech­niques have the poten­tial to study spec­tro-tem­po­ral encod­ing and abstrac­tion of speech in more detail, and cru­cial­ly, in a man­ner that can be relat­ed to results from oth­er fields. […] We sug­gest that the out­put of these mul­ti­vari­ate meth­ods can serve as input to cog­ni­tive mod­els of speech per­cep­tion, in par­al­lel to behav­iour-based like­li­hoods that have been used in speech sci­ence, wave­form-based like­li­hoods that can be extract­ed with auto­mat­ic speech recog­ni­tion tech­niques, or spike-tim­ing pat­terns that have been observed in ani­mal studies.

The inte­gra­tion of find­ings from all of these areas, and the lat­est tech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ments with­in each of them, can lead to a testable, neu­roanatom­i­cal mod­el of pre-lex­i­cal abstraction.’

Feel free to mail me for reprints.


  • Obleser J, Eis­ner F. Pre-lex­i­cal abstrac­tion of speech in the audi­to­ry cor­tex. Trends Cogn Sci. 2009 Jan;13(1):14–9. PMID: 19070534. [Open with Read]