No AccessJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing ResearchResearch Article19 Sep 2018

Perceptual Encoding in Auditory Brainstem Responses: Effects of Stimulus Frequency

    Purpose

    A central question about auditory perception concerns how acoustic information is represented at different stages of processing. The auditory brainstem response (ABR) provides a potentially useful index of the earliest stages of this process. However, it is unclear how basic acoustic characteristics (e.g., differences in tones spanning a wide range of frequencies) are indexed by ABR components. This study addresses this by investigating how ABR amplitude and latency track stimulus frequency for tones ranging from 250 to 8000 Hz.

    Method

    In a repeated-measures experimental design, listeners were presented with brief tones (250, 500, 1000, 2000, 4000, and 8000 Hz) in random order while electroencephalography was recorded. ABR latencies and amplitudes for Wave V (6–9 ms) and in the time window following the Wave V peak (labeled as Wave VI; 9–12 ms) were measured.

    Results

    Wave V latency decreased with increasing frequency, replicating previous work. In addition, Waves V and VI amplitudes tracked differences in tone frequency, with a nonlinear response from 250 to 8000 Hz and a clear log-linear response to tones from 500 to 8000 Hz.

    Conclusions

    Results demonstrate that the ABR provides a useful measure of early perceptual encoding for stimuli varying in frequency and that the tonotopic organization of the auditory system is preserved at this stage of processing for stimuli from 500 to 8000 Hz. Such a measure may serve as a useful clinical tool for evaluating a listener's ability to encode specific frequencies in sounds.

    Supplemental Material

    https://doi.org/10.23641/asha.6987422

    References

    • Akhoun, I., Gallégo, S., Moulin, A., Ménard, M., Veuillet, E., Berger-Vachon, C., … Thai-Van, H. (2008). The temporal relationship between speech auditory brainstem responses and the acoustic pattern of the phoneme /ba/ in normal-hearing adults. Clinical Neurophysiology, 119(4), 922–933.
    • Alho, K., Grimm, S., Mateo-León, S., Costa-Faidella, J., & Escera, C. (2012). Early processing of pitch in the human auditory system. The European Journal of Neuroscience, 36(7), 2972–2978.
    • Anderson, S., Parbery-Clark, A., White-Schwoch, T., & Kraus, N. (2015). Development of subcortical speech representation in human infants. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 137(6), 3346–3355.
    • Anderson, S., Skoe, E., Chandrasekaran, B., Zecker, S., & Kraus, N. (2010). Brainstem correlates of speech-in-noise perception in children. Hearing Research, 270, 151–157.
    • Banai, K., Hornickel, J., Skoe, E., Nicol, T., Zecker, S., & Kraus, N. (2009). Reading and subcortical auditory function. Cerebral Cortex, 19(11), 2699–2707.
    • Beattie, R. C., & Tone, P. (1997). Effects of rise-fall time and repetition rate on the auditory brainstem response to 0.5 and 1 kHz tone bursts using normal-hearing and hearing-impaired subjects. Scandinavian Audiology, 26, 23–32.
    • Bidelman, G. M. (2013). The role of the auditory brainstem in processing musically relevant pitch. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 264.
    • Bidelman, G. M. (2015). Towards an optimal paradigm for simultaneously recording cortical and brainstem auditory evoked potentials. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 241, 94–100.
    • Bidelman, G. M., Gandour, J. T., & Krishnan, A. (2011). Cross-domain effects of music and language experience on the representation of pitch in the human auditory brainstem. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23(2), 425–434.
    • Boersma, P., & Weenink, D. (2016). Praat: Doing phonetics by computer [Computer program]. Retrieved from http://www.fon.hum.uva.nl/praat/
    • Chandrasekaran, B., Hornickel, J., Skoe, E., Nicol, T., & Kraus, N. (2009). Context-dependent encoding in the human auditory brainstem relates to hearing speech in noise: Implications for developmental dyslexia. Neuron, 64(3), 311–319.
    • Coats, A. (1978). Human auditory nerve action potentials and brain stem evoked responses: Latency-intensity functions in detection of cochlear and retrocochlear abnormality. Archives of Otolaryngology, 104, 709–717.
    • Conijn, E. A. J. G., Brocaar, M. P., & Zanten, G. A. V. (1993). Frequency-specific aspects of the auditory brainstem response threshold elicited by 1000-hz filtered clicks in subjects with sloping cochlear hearing losses. Audiology, 32, 1–11.
    • Connolly, J. F., Aubry, K., McGillivary, N., & Scott, D. W. (1989). Human brainstem auditory evoked potentials fail to provide evidence of efferent modulation of auditory input during attentional tasks. Psychophysiology, 26(3), 292–303.
    • Delorme, A., & Makeig, S. (2004). EEGLAB: An open source toolbox for analysis of single-trial EEG dynamics including independent component analysis. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 134, 9–21.
    • Despland, P.-A., & Galambos, R. (1980). The auditory brainstem response (ABR) is a useful diagnostic tool in the intensive care nursery. Pediatric Research, 14(2), 154–158.
    • Fausti, S. A., Olson, D. J., Frey, R. H., Henry, J. A., Schaffer, H. I., & Phillips, D. S. (1995). High-frequency toneburst-evoked ABR latency-intensity functions in sensorineural hearing-impaired humans. Scandinavian Audiology, 24, 19–25.
    • Ferm, I., Lightfoot, G., & Stevens, J. (2013). Comparison of ABR response amplitude, test time, and estimation of hearing threshold using frequency specific chirp and tone pip stimuli in newborns. International Journal of Audiology, 52(6), 419–423.
    • Fletcher, H., & Munson, W. (1933). Loudness, its definition, measurement and calculation. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 5(2), 82–108.
    • Folsom, R. C., & Wynne, M. K. (1987). Auditory brain stem responses from human adults and infants: Wave V tuning curves. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 81(2), 412–417.
    • Fowler, C. G., & Horn, J. H. (2012). Frequency dependence of binaural interaction in the auditory brainstem and middle latency responses. American Journal of Audiology, 21(2), 190–198.
    • Foxe, J. J., & Stapells, D. R. (1993). Normal infant and adult auditory brainstem responses to bone-conducted tones. Audiology, 32, 95–109.
    • Galambos, R., & Hecox, K. E. (1978). Clinical applications of the auditory brain stem response. Otolaryngologic Clinics of North America, 11(3), 709–722.
    • Gorga, M. P., Johnson, T. A., Kaminski, J. R., Beauchaine, K. L., Garner, C. A., & Neely, S. T. (2006). Using a combination of click- and tone burst-evoked auditory brain stem response measurements to estimate pure-tone thresholds. Ear and Hearing, 27(1), 60–74.
    • Grindle, C. R. (2014). Pediatric hearing loss. Pediatrics in Review, 35(11), 456–463.
    • Hayes, D., & Jerger, J. (1982). Auditory brainstem response (ABR) to tone-pips: Results in normal and hearing-impaired subjects. Scandinavian Audiology, 11(3), 133–142.
    • Hornickel, J., Skoe, E., Nicol, T., Zecker, S., & Kraus, N. (2009). Subcortical differentiation of stop consonants relates to reading and speech-in-noise perception. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106(31), 13022–13027.
    • Jewett, D., & Williston, J. (1971). Auditory evoked far-fields averaged from the scalp of humans. Brain, 94, 681–696.
    • Kappenman, E. S., & Luck, S. J. (2010). The effects of electrode impedance on data quality and statistical significance in ERP recordings. Psychophysiology, 47(5), 888–904.
    • Kileny, P. (1981). The frequency specificity of tone-pip evoked auditory brain stem responses. Ear and Hearing, 2(6), 270–275.
    • Klein, A. J. (1983). Properties of the brain-stem response slow-wave component: I. Latency, amplitude, and threshold sensitivity. Archives of Otolaryngology, 109(1), 6–12.
    • Kramer, S. J. (1992). Frequency-specific auditory brainstem responses to bone-conducted stimuli. Audiology, 31(2), 61–71.
    • Krishnan, A., Bidelman, G. M., Smalt, C. J., Ananthakrishnan, S., & Gandour, J. T. (2012). Relationship between brainstem, cortical and behavioral measures relevant to pitch salience in humans. Neuropsychologia, 50(12), 2849–2859.
    • Lopez-Calderon, J., & Luck, S. J. (2014). ERPLAB: An open-source toolbox for the analysis of event-related potentials. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8, 213.
    • Luck, S. J. (2005). Ten simple rules for designing ERP experiments. In Handy, T. C. (Ed.), Event-related potentials: A methods handbook (pp. 17–32). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    • Mair, I. W. S., & Laukli, E. (1986). Air conduction thresholds after myringoplasty and stapes surgery: A conventional and high frequency audiometric comparison. Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology, 95(4), 327–330.
    • Mason, J. A., & Herrmann, K. R. (1998). Universal infant hearing screening by automated auditory brainstem response measurement. Pediatrics, 101(2), 221–228.
    • Mathôt, S., Schreij, D., & Theeuwes, J. (2012). OpenSesame: An open-source, graphical experiment builder for the social sciences. Behavior Research Methods, 44, 314–324.
    • Maurizi, M., Paludetti, G., Ottaviani, F., & Rosignoli, M. (1984). Auditory brainstem responses to middle- and low-frequency tone pips. Audiology, 23, 75–84.
    • Neely, S., Norton, S., Gorga, M., & Jesteadt, W. (1988). Latency of auditory brain-stem responses and otoacoustic emissions using tone-burst stimuli. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 83(2), 652–656.
    • Nousak, J. M., & Stapells, D. R. (1992). Frequency specificity of the auditory brain stem response to bone-conducted tones in infants and adults. Ear and Hearing, 13(2), 87–95.
    • Oates, P., & Purdy, S. C. (2001). Frequency specificity of the human auditory brainstem and middle latency responses using notched noise masking. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 110(2), 995–1009.
    • Oates, P., & Stapells, D. R. (1997a). Frequency specificity of the human auditory brainstem and middle latency responses to brief tones. I. High-pass noise masking. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 102(6), 3597–3608.
    • Oates, P., & Stapells, D. R. (1997b). Frequency specificity of the human auditory brainstem and middle latency responses to brief tones. II. Derived response analyses. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 102(6), 3609–3619.
    • Picton, T. W., & Hillyard, S. A. (1974). Human auditory evoked potentials. II: Effects of attention. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 36, 191–199.
    • Picton, T. W., Ouellette, J., Hamel, G., & Smith, A. D. (1979). Brainstem evoked potentials to tonepips in notched noise. The Journal of Otolaryngology, 8(4), 289–314.
    • Picton, T. W., Woods, D. L., & Proulx, G. B. (1978). Human auditory sustained potentials. II. Stimulus relationships. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 45, 198–210.
    • Pratt, H. (2011). Sensory ERP components. In Luck, S. J. & Kappenman, E. S. (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of event-related potential components (pp. 89–114). Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
    • Purdy, S. C., & Abbas, P. J. (2002). ABR thresholds to tonebursts gated with blackman and linear windows in adults with high-frequency sensorineural hearing loss. Ear and Hearing, 23, 358–368.
    • Rance, G., Roper, R., Symons, L., Moody, L. J., Poulis, C., Dourlay, M., & Kelly, T. (2005). Hearing threshold estimation in infants using auditory steady-state responses. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 16, 291–300.
    • Rasetshwane, D. M., Argenyi, M., Neely, S. T., Kopun, J. G., & Gorga, M. P. (2013). Latency of tone-burst-evoked auditory brain stem responses and otoacoustic emissions: Level, frequency, and rise-time effects. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 133(5), 2803–2817.
    • Ribeiro, F. M., & Carvallo, R. M. (2008). Tone-evoked ABR in full-term and preterm neonates with normal hearing. International Journal of Audiology, 47, 21–29.
    • Scherg, M., & Volk, S. A. (1983). Frequency specificity of simultaneously recorded early and middle latency auditory evoked potentials. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 56(5), 443–452.
    • Schulman-Galambos, C., & Galambos, R. (1979). Brain stem evoked response audiometry in newborn hearing screening. Archives of Otolaryngology, 105, 86–90.
    • Skoe, E., & Kraus, N. (2010). Auditory brain stem response to complex sounds: A tutorial. Ear and Hearing, 31(3), 302–324.
    • Skoe, E., & Kraus, N. (2013). Musical training heightens auditory brainstem function during sensitive periods in development. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 622.
    • Song, J., Banai, K., Russo, N., & Kraus, N. (2006). On the relationship between speech-and nonspeech-evoked auditory brainstem responses. Audiology & Neurotology, 11, 233–241.
    • Stapells, D. R. (2000). Frequency-specific evoked potential audiometry in infants. In Seewald, R. C. (Ed.), A sound foundation through early amplification: Proceedings of an international conference (pp. 13–31). Chicago, IL: Phonak AG.
    • Stapells, D. R. (2011). Frequency-specific threshold assessment in young infants using the transient ABR and the brainstem ASSR. In Seewald, R. & Tharpe, A. M. (Eds.), Comprehensive handbook of pediatric audiology (pp. 409–448). San Diego, CA: Plural.
    • Stapells, D. R., & Picton, T. W. (1981). Technical aspects of brainstem evoked potential audiometry using tones. Ear and Hearing, 2(1), 20–29.
    • Stapells, D. R., Picton, T. W., & Durieux-Smith, A. (1994). Electrophysiologic measures of frequency-specific auditory function. In Jacobson, J. (Ed.), Principles and applications in auditory evoked potentials (pp. 251–283). Needham Hill, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
    • Stapells, D. R., Picton, T. W., Durieux-Smith, A., Edwards, C. G., & Moran, L. M. (1990). Thresholds for short-latency auditory-evoked potentials to tones in notched noise in normal-hearing and hearing-impaired subjects. Audiology, 29(5), 262–274.
    • Strait, D. L., Chan, K., Ashley, R., & Kraus, N. (2012). Specialization among the specialized: Auditory brainstem function is tuned in to timbre. Cortex, 48(3), 360–362.
    • Suzuki, T., Hirai, Y., & Horiuchi, K. (1977). Auditory brain stem responses to pure tone stimuli. Scandinavian Audiology, 6, 51–56.
    • Tanner, D., Morgan-Short, K., & Luck, S. J. (2015). How inappropriate high-pass filters can produce artifactual effects and incorrect conclusions in ERP studies of language and cognition. Psychophysiology, 52(8), 997–1009.
    • Toscano, J. C., McMurray, B., Dennhardt, J., & Luck, S. J. (2010). Continuous perception and graded categorization: Electrophysiological evidence for a linear relationship between the acoustic signal and perceptual encoding of speech. Psychological Science, 21, 1532–1540.
    • Woodman, G. F. (2010). A brief introduction to the use of event-related potentials in studies of perception and attention. Attention, Perception, Psychophysics, 72(8), 2031–2046.

    Additional Resources