Strategies for the representation of a tone in background noise in the temporal aspects of the discharge patterns of auditory-nerve fibers

Michael I. Miller, Patrick E. Barta, B. Sachs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The responses of populations of auditory-nerve fibers to both a 1.0-kHz tone, and 1.0-kHz tone in broadband noise, have been measured. Period histograms were generated from fiber spike trains and discrete Fourier transforms (DFTs) with a resolution of 125 Hz were computed from each histogram. Sample mean and sample variance statistics were generated for period histograms of response and for temporal response measures derived from discrete Fourier transforms. It is demonstrated how the statistical properties of auditory-nerve fiber response determine the strategy for the estimation and discrimination of particular stimulus components. When the tone is presented alone, the entire population of auditory-nerve fibers provides statistically reliable estimates of the 1.0-kHz tone. Upon addition of the broadband, noise stimulus only those units with characteristic frequencies which are close in frequency to the 1.0-kHz stimulus provide spectral estimates which have high signal-to-noise ratios (mean-squared-to-variance ratios). Estimates of the 1.0-kHz-tone stimulus derived from auditory-nerve fibers with characteristic frequencies which are far from the 1.0-kHz stimulus are statistically unreliable. Based on the responses of the population of auditory-nerve fibers, the strategy for estimating the 1.0-kHz-tone stimulus is to derive estimates of the 1.0-kHz stimulus from the subpopulation of neurons with characteristic frequencies close to the 1.0-kHz stimulus. It is concluded that neurons which are tuned close to 1.0 kHz provide the central nervous system (CNS) with the most salient information about the 1.0-kHz stimulus in the presence of the broadband background.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-679
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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