Probing temporal modulation detection in white noise using intrinsic envelope fluctuations: A reverse-correlation study

J Acoust Soc Am. 2022 Feb;151(2):1353. doi: 10.1121/10.0009629.


Part of the detrimental effect caused by a stationary noise on sound perception results from the masking of relevant amplitude modulations (AM) in the signal by random intrinsic envelope fluctuations arising from the filtering of noise by cochlear channels. This study capitalizes on this phenomenon to probe AM detection strategies for human listeners using a reverse correlation analysis. Eight normal-hearing listeners were asked to detect the presence of a 4-Hz sinusoidal AM target applied to a 1-kHz tone carrier using a yes-no task with 3000 trials/participant. All stimuli were embedded in a white-noise masker. A reverse-correlation analysis was then carried on the data to compute "psychophysical kernels" showing which aspects of the stimulus' temporal envelope influenced the listener's responses. These results were compared to data simulated with different implementations of a modulation-filterbank model. Psychophysical kernels revealed that human listeners were able to track the position of AM peaks in the target, similar to the models. However, they also showed a marked temporal decay and a consistent phase shift compared to the ideal template. In light of the simulated data, this was interpreted as an evidence for the presence of phase uncertainty in the processing of intrinsic envelope fluctuations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Auditory Threshold
  • Cochlea
  • Correlation of Data
  • Hearing
  • Humans
  • Noise* / adverse effects
  • Perceptual Masking*