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Open Access Pitch of Harmonic Complex Tones: Rate Coding of Envelope Repetition Rate in the Auditory Midbrain

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Envelope repetition rate (ERR) is an important cue for the pitch of harmonic complex tones (HCT), especially when the tone consists entirely of unresolved harmonics. Neural synchronization to the stimulus envelope provides a prominent cue for ERR in the auditory periphery, but this temporal code becomes degraded and gives way to rate codes in higher centers. The inferior colliculus (IC) likely plays a key role in this temporal-to-rate code transformation. Here we recorded single IC neuron responses to HCT at varying fundamental frequencies (F 0). ERR was manipulated by applying different inter-harmonic phase relationships. We identified a subset of neurons that showed a 'non-tonotopic' rate tuning to ERR between 160 and 1500 Hz. A comparison of neural responses to HCT and sinusoidally amplitude modulated (SAM) noise suggests that this tuning is dependent on the shape of stimulus envelope. A phenomenological model is able to reproduce the non-tonotopic tuning to ERR, and suggests it arises in the IC via synaptic inhibition.

© 2018 The Author(s). Published by S. Hirzel Verlag · EAA. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license (

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2018

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  • Acta Acustica united with Acustica, published together with the European Acoustics Association (EAA), is an international, peer-reviewed journal on acoustics. It publishes original articles on all subjects in the field of acoustics, such as general linear acoustics, nonlinear acoustics, macrosonics, flow acoustics, atmospheric sound, underwater sound, ultrasonics, physical acoustics, structural acoustics, noise control, active control, environmental noise, building acoustics, room acoustics, acoustic materials, acoustic signal processing, computational and numerical acoustics, hearing, audiology and psychoacoustics, speech, musical acoustics, electroacoustics, auditory quality of systems. It reports on original scientific research in acoustics and on engineering applications. The journal considers scientific papers, technical and applied papers, book reviews, short communications, doctoral thesis abstracts, etc. In irregular intervals also special issues and review articles are published.
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