Navigation Links
Brain waves make waves
Date:11/14/2012

This press release is available in German.

Naturally, our brain activity waxes and wanes. When listening, this oscillation synchronizes to the sounds we are hearing. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences have found that this influences the way we listen. Hearing abilities also oscillate and depend on the exact timing of one's brain rhythms. This discovery that sound, brain, and behaviour are so intimately coupled will help us to learn more about listening abilities in hearing loss.

Our world is full of cyclic phenomena: For example, many people experience their attention span changing over the course of a day. Maybe you yourself are more alert in the morning, others more in the afternoon. Bodily functions cyclically change or "oscillate" with environmental rhythms, like light and dark, and this in turn seems to govern our perception and behaviours. One might conclude that we are slaves to our own circadian rhythms, which in turn are slaves to environmental lightdark cycles.

A hard-to-prove idea in neuroscience is that such couplings between rhythms in the environment, rhythms in the brain, and our behaviours are also present at much finer time scales. Molly Henry and Jonas Obleser from the Max Planck Research Group "Auditory Cognition" now followed up on this recurrent idea by investigating the listening brain.

This idea holds fascinating implications for the way humans process speech and music: Imagine the melodic contour of a human voice or your favourite piece of music going up and down. If your brain becomes coupled to, or "entrained" by, these melodic changes, Henry and Obleser rea-soned, then you might also be better prepared to expect fleeting but important sounds occurring in what the voice is saying, for example, a "d" versus a "t".

The simple "fleeting sound" in the scientists' experiment was a very short and very hard-to-detect silent gap (about one one-hundredth of a second) embedded in a simplified version of a melodic contour, which slowly and cyclically changed its pitch at a rate of three cycles per second (3 Hz).

To be able to track each listener's brain activity on a millisecond basis, Henry and Obleser record-ed the electroencephalographic signal from listeners' scalps. First, the authors demonstrated that every listener's brain was "dragged along" (this is what entrainment, a French word, literally means) by the slow cyclic changes in melody; listeners' neural activity waxed and waned. Second, the listeners' ability to discover the fleeting gaps hidden in the melodic changes was by no means constant over time. Instead, it also "oscillated" and was governed by the brain's waxing and wan-ing. The researchers could predict from a listener's slow brain wave whether or not an upcoming gap would be detected or would slip under the radar.

Why is that? "The slow waxings and wanings of brain activity are called neural oscillations. They regulate our ability to process incoming information", Molly Henry explains. Jonas Obleser adds that "from these findings, an important conclusion emerges: All acoustic fluctuations we encoun-ter appear to shape our brain's activity. Apparently, our brain uses these rhythmic fluctuations to be prepared best for processing important upcoming information".

The researchers hope to be able to use the brain's coupling to its acoustic environment as a new measure to study the problems of listeners with hearing loss or people who stutter.


'/>"/>

Contact: Molly Henry
henry@cbs.mpg.de
49-341-994-02483
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. New brain gene gives us edge over apes, study suggests
2. Watching the developing brain, scientists glean clues on neurological disorder
3. Cilia guide neuronal migration in developing brain
4. Detection, analysis of cell dust may allow diagnosis, monitoring of brain cancer
5. Learning whos the top dog: Study reveals how the brain stores information about social rank
6. In-sync brain waves hold memory of objects just seen
7. MRI research sheds new light on nerve fibers in the brain
8. MRI research sheds new light on nerve fibres in the brain
9. UCSB scientists report new beginning in split-brain research, using new analytical tools
10. Brain may see more than the eyes, study indicates
11. Primates brains make visual maps using triangular grids
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Brain waves make waves
(Date:4/28/2016)... , April 28, 2016 First quarter 2016: ... up 966% compared with the first quarter of 2015 ... SEK 589.1 M (loss: 18.8) and the operating margin was 40% ... 0.32) Cash flow from operations was SEK 249.9 M ... revenue guidance is unchanged, SEK 7,000-8,500 M. The operating ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... CHICAGO , April 15, 2016  A ... companies make more accurate underwriting decisions in a ... offering timely, competitively priced and high-value life insurance ... health screenings. With Force Diagnostics, rapid ... and lifestyle data readings (blood pressure, weight, pulse, ...
(Date:3/31/2016)...   LegacyXChange, Inc. ... LegacyXChange is excited to release its first ... be launched online site for trading 100% guaranteed authentic ... also provide potential shareholders a sense of the value ... industry that is notorious for fraud. The video is ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Andrew D ... http://doi.org/10.17925/OHR.2016.12.01.22 Published recently in ... from touchONCOLOGY, Andrew D Zelenetz , discusses ... care is placing an increasing burden on healthcare ... therapies. With the patents on many biologics expiring, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... a new line of intelligent tools designed, tuned and optimized exclusively for Okuma ... 12–17 in Chicago. The result of a collaboration among several companies with expertise ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... June 22, 2016 Research and Markets has ... report to their offering. ... 2014 from $29.3 billion in 2013. The market is expected to ... from 2015 to 2020, increasing from $50.6 billion in 2015 to ... forecasts during the forecast period (2015 to 2020) are discussed. As ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... 2016   ViaCyte, Inc. , a privately-held regenerative ... replacement therapy for the treatment of diabetes in clinical-stage ... Meeting.  ISSCR 2016, the Global Stem Cell Event, is ... in San Francisco.    ... follows:Event: , Focus Session: Tools for Basic and Applied ...
Breaking Biology Technology: