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Wiegrebe, Lutz ORCID: 0000-0002-9289-6187; Meddis, Ray (2004): The representation of periodic sounds in simulated sustained chopper units of the ventral cochlear nucleus. In: Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Vol. 115, No. 3: pp. 1207-1218
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The nature of the neural processing underlying the extraction of pitch information from harmonic complex sounds is still unclear. Electrophysiological studies in the auditory nerve and many psychophysical and modeling studies suggest that pitch might be extracted successfully by applying a mechanism like autocorrelation to the temporal discharge patterns of auditory-nerve fibers. The current modeling study investigates the possible role of populations of sustained chopper (Chop-S) units located in the mammalian ventral cochlear nucleus (VCN) in this process. First, it is shown that computer simulations can predict responses to periodic and quasiperiodic sounds of individual Chop-S units recorded in the guinea-pig VCN. Second, it is shown that the fundamental period of a periodic or quasiperiodic sound is represented in the first-order, interspike interval statistics of a population of simulated Chop-S units. This is true across a wide range of characteristic frequencies when the chopping rate is equal to the f0 of the sound. The model was able to simulate the results of psychophysical studies involving the pitch height and pitch strength of iterated ripple noise, the dominance re-ion of pitch, the effect of phase on pitch height and pitch strength, pitch of inharmonic stimuli, and of sinusoidally amplitude modulated noise. Simulation results indicate that chances in the interspike interval statistics of populations of Chop-S units compare well with changes in the pitch perceived by humans. It is proposed that Chop-S units in the ventral cochlear nucleus may play an important role in pitch extraction: They can convert a purely temporal pitch code as observed in the auditory nerve into a temporal place code of pitch in populations of cochlear-nucleus, Chop-S with different characteristic frequencies, and chopping rates. Thus, populations of cochlear-nucleus Chop-S units, together with their target units presumably located in the inferior colliculus, may serve to establish a stable rate-place code of pitch at the level of the auditory cortex. (C) 2004 Acoustical Society of America.