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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/11178

Title: Human Brain Responses to Speech Sounds
Authors: Aiken, Steven James
Advisor: Picton, Terence W.
Department: Medical Science
Keywords: Evoked responses
Speech
Steady-state responses
Brainstem
Auditory cortex
Issue Date: 30-Jul-2008
Abstract: Electrophysiologic responses are used to estimate hearing thresholds and fit hearing aids in young infants, but these estimates are not exact. An objective test of speech encoding could be used to validate infant fittings by showing that speech has been registered in the central auditory system. Such a test could also show the effects of auditory processing problems on the neural representation of speech. This thesis describes techniques for recording electrophysiologic responses to natural speech stimuli from the brainstem and auditory cortex. The first technique uses a Fourier analyzer to measure steady-state brainstem responses to periodicities and envelope changes in vowels, and the second uses a windowed cross-correlation procedure to measure cortical responses to the envelopes of sentences. Two studies were conducted with the Fourier analyzer. The first measured responses to natural vowels with steady and changing fundamentals, and changing formants. Significant responses to the fundamental were detected for all of the vowels, in all of the subjects, in 19 – 73 s (on average). The second study recorded responses to a vowel fundamental and harmonics. Vowels were presented in opposite polarities to distinguish envelope responses from responses to the spectrum. Significant envelope responses were detected in all subjects at the fundamental. Significant spectral responses were detected in most subjects at harmonics near formant peaks. The third study used cross-correlation to measure cortical responses to sentences. Significant envelope responses were detected to all sentences, at delays of roughly 180 ms. Responses were localized to the posterior auditory cortices. A model based on a series of overlapping transient responses to envelope changes could also account for the results, suggesting that the cortex either directly follows the speech envelope or consistently reacts to changes in this envelope. The strengths and weaknesses of both techniques are discussed in relation to their potential clinical applications.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/11178
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Institute of Medical Science - Doctoral theses

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