Experience-induced Malleability in Neural Encoding of Pitch, Timbre, and Timing: Implications for Language and Music

Auditory Neuroscience Lab, Department of Communication Sciences, Northwestern University, 2240 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208, USA.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 4.31). 07/2009; 1169(1). DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04549.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Speech and music are highly complex signals that have many shared acoustic features. Pitch, Timbre, and Timing can be used as overarching perceptual categories for describing these shared properties. The acoustic cues contributing to these percepts also have distinct subcortical representations which can be selectively enhanced or degraded in different populations. Musically trained subjects are found to have enhanced subcortical representations of pitch, timbre, and timing. The effects of musical experience on subcortical auditory processing are pervasive and extend beyond music to the domains of language and emotion. The sensory malleability of the neural encoding of pitch, timbre, and timing can be affected by lifelong experience and short-term training. This conceptual framework and supporting data can be applied to consider sensory learning of speech and music through a hearing aid or cochlear implant.

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    • "used to quantify the magnitude of voice " pitch " encoding captured in brainstem FFRs (Banai et al., 2009; Bidelman et al., 2011b; Bidelman and Krishnan, 2010; Song et al., 2012), while its upper harmonics reflect the encoding of speech " timbre " (Bidelman and Krishnan, 2010; Bidelman et al., 2014b; Kraus et al., 2009; Krishnan, 2002; Skoe and Kraus, 2010). Our previous work has shown that these " pitch- " and " timbre- " related metrics predict an individual's success in discriminating (Bidelman and Krishnan, 2010) and identifying (Bidelman et al., 2014a,b) speech information. "
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    ABSTRACT: Simultaneous recording of brainstem and cortical event-related brain potentials (ERPs) may offer a valuable tool for understanding the early neural transcription of behaviorally-relevant sounds and the hierarchy of signal processing operating at multiple levels of the auditory system. To date, dual recordings have been challenged by technological and physiological limitations including different optimal parameters necessary to elicit each class of ERP (e.g., differential adaptation/habitation effects and number of trials to obtain adequate response signal-to-noise ratio). We investigated a new stimulus paradigm for concurrent recording of the auditory brainstem frequency-following response (FFR) and cortical ERPs. The paradigm is more "optimal" in that it uses a clustered stimulus presentation and variable interstimulus interval (ISI) to (i) achieve the most ideal acquisition parameters for eliciting subcortical and cortical responses, (ii) obtain an adequate number of trials to detect each class of response, and (iii) minimize neural adaptation/habituation effects. Comparison between the clustered and traditional (fixed, slow ISI) stimulus paradigms revealed minimal change in amplitude or latencies of either the brainstem FFR or cortical ERP. The clustered paradigm offered over a 3x increase in recording efficiency compared to conventional (fixed ISI presentation) and thus, a more efficient protocol for obtaining dual brainstem-cortical recordings in individual listeners. We infer that faster recording of subcortical and cortical potentials might allow more complete and sensitive testing of neurophysiological function and aid in the differential assessment of auditory function. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier B.V.
    Journal of Neuroscience Methods 01/2015; 241. DOI:10.1016/j.jneumeth.2014.12.019 · 1.96 Impact Factor
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    • "The Sensory-Cognitive dimension characterizes the processing level affected and ranges from low-level sensory processing that is specific to the auditory domain, to high-level domain-general cognitive processes that support language and executive function (e.g., mechanisms that regulate, control and manage attention, working memory and planning). It is supported by research that shows benefits of music training at sensory levels (e.g., experiencedependent plasticity in brainstem AEPs, Kraus et al., 2009; Krishnan and Gandour, 2009; Krishnan et al., 2012) as well as cognitive levels (e.g., music training impacting cortical plasticity, e.g., Münte et al., 2002; Trainor et al., 2003; Zatorre, 2005; Moreno et al., 2011a; Herholz and Zatorre, 2012, and attention/inhibition control, e.g., Moreno et al., 2011a; Strait et al., 2012). The Near- Far dimension characterizes the " distance " of transfer (i.e., the degree of similarity) from the domain and context of training to the skills assessed. "
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    ABSTRACT: Sensitive periods in human development have often been proposed to explain age-related differences in the attainment of a number of skills, such as a second language (L2) and musical expertise. It is difficult to reconcile the negative consequence this traditional view entails for learning after a sensitive period with our current understanding of the brain's ability for experience-dependent plasticity across the lifespan. What is needed is a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying auditory learning and plasticity at different points in development. Drawing on research in language development and music training, this review examines not only what we learn and when we learn it, but also how learning occurs at different ages. First, we discuss differences in the mechanism of learning and plasticity during and after a sensitive period by examining how language exposure versus training forms language-specific phonetic representations in infants and adult L2 learners, respectively. Second, we examine the impact of musical training that begins at different ages on behavioral and neural indices of auditory and motor processing as well as sensorimotor integration. Third, we examine the extent to which childhood training in one auditory domain can enhance processing in another domain via the transfer of learning between shared neuro-cognitive systems. Specifically, we review evidence for a potential bi-directional transfer of skills between music and language by examining how speaking a tonal language may enhance music processing and, conversely, how early music training can enhance language processing. We conclude with a discussion of the role of attention in auditory learning for learning during and after sensitive periods and outline avenues of future research.
    Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 11/2013; 7:90. DOI:10.3389/fnsys.2013.00090
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    • "This benefit is not limited to musicians but generalizes to other groups with high expertise in pitch, such as tonal language speakers (Krishnan et al., 2008; Bidelman et al., 2013b). Other studies have shown that the ABR preserves timbral characteristics more accurately in people with musical backgrounds (Kraus et al., 2009; Bidelman and Krishnan, 2010; Strait et al., 2012). This early benefit in pitch and timbre perception seems to precede cortical representations of pitch and timbre and may be transformed to a more conceptual-level representation of the response as it is transmitted upwards (Bidelman et al., 2013a). "
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    ABSTRACT: The voice is one of the most important media for communication, yet there is a wide range of abilities in both the perception and production of the voice. In this article, we review this range of abilities, focusing on pitch accuracy as a particularly informative case, and look at the factors underlying these abilities. Several classes of models have been posited describing the relationship between vocal perception and production, and we review the evidence for and against each class of model. We look at how the voice is different from other musical instruments and review evidence about both the association and the dissociation between vocal perception and production abilities. Finally, we introduce the Linked Dual Representation (LDR) model, a new approach which can account for the broad patterns in prior findings, including trends in the data which might seem to be countervailing. We discuss how this model interacts with higher-order cognition and examine its predictions about several aspects of vocal perception and production.
    Frontiers in Psychology 11/2013; 4:825. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00825 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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