Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Decoding sound's source

Date:
October 1, 2013
Source:
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
Summary:
Researchers have gained new insight into how localized hearing works in the brain.

"Our results show that higher levels of the brain may be able to accurately segregate and localize sound sources based on the detection of patterns in a relatively small population of IC neurons," said Dr. Day.
Credit: JuliSonne / Fotolia

As Baby Boomers age, many experience difficulty in hearing and understanding conversations in noisy environments such as restaurants. People who are hearing-impaired and who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants are even more severely impacted. Researchers know that the ability to locate the source of a sound with ease is vital to hear well in these types of situations, but much more information is needed to understand how hearing works to be able to design devices that work better in noisy environment.

Researchers from the Eaton-Peabody Laboratories of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School, and Research Laboratory of Electronics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology have gained new insight into how localized hearing works in the brain. Their research is published in the Oct. 2, 2013 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

"Most people are able to locate the source of a sound with ease, for example, a snapping twig on the left, or a honking horn on the right. However this is actually a difficult problem for the brain to solve," said Mitchell L. Day, Ph.D., investigator in the Eaton-Peabody Laboratories at Mass. Eye and Ear and instructor of Otology and Laryngology at Harvard Medical School "The higher levels of the brain that decide the direction a sound is coming from do not have access to the actual sound, but only the representation of that sound in the electrical activity of neurons at lower levels in the brain. How higher levels of the brain use information contained in the electrical activity of these lower-level neurons to create the perception of sound location is not known."

In the experiment, researchers recorded the electrical activity of individual neurons in an essential lower-level auditory brain area called the inferior colliculus (IC) while an animal listened to sounds coming from different directions. They found that the location of a sound source could be accurately predicted from the pattern of activation across a population of less than 100 IC neurons -- i.e., a particular pattern of IC activation indicated a particular location in space. Researchers further found that the pattern of IC activation could correctly distinguish whether there was a single sound source present or two sources coming from different directions -- i.e., the pattern of IC activation could segregate concurrent sources.

"Our results show that higher levels of the brain may be able to accurately segregate and localize sound sources based on the detection of patterns in a relatively small population of IC neurons," said Dr. Day. "We hope to learn more so that someday we can design devices that work better in noisy environments."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. L. Day, B. Delgutte. Decoding Sound Source Location and Separation Using Neural Population Activity Patterns. Journal of Neuroscience, 2013; 33 (40): 15837 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2034-13.2013

Cite This Page:

Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. "Decoding sound's source." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131001192149.htm>.
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. (2013, October 1). Decoding sound's source. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131001192149.htm
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. "Decoding sound's source." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131001192149.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) More than 100 tons of medical supplies were sent to West Africa on Saturday, but aid workers say the global response is still sluggish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins