Publications by authors named "István Winkler"

118 Publications

Word class and word frequency in the MMN looking glass.

Brain Lang 2021 Jul 5;218:104964. Epub 2021 May 5.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Budapest, Hungary; Institute of Psychology, Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary, Budapest, Hungary.

The effects of lexical meaning and lexical familiarity on auditory deviance detection were investigated by presenting oddball sequences of words, while participants ignored the stimuli. Stimulus sequences were composed of words that were varied in word class (nouns vs. functions words) and frequency of language use (high vs. low frequency) in a factorial design with the roles of frequently presented stimuli (Standards) and infrequently presented ones (Deviants) were fully crossed. Deviants elicited the Mismatch Negativity component of the event-related brain potential. Modulating effects of lexical meaning were obtained, revealing processing advantages for denotationally meaningful items. However, no effect of word frequency was observed. These results demonstrate that an apparently low-level function, such as auditory deviance detection utilizes information from the mental lexicon even for task-irrelevant stimuli.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bandl.2021.104964DOI Listing
July 2021

Who said what? The effects of speech tempo on target detection and information extraction in a multi-talker situation: An ERP and functional connectivity study.

Psychophysiology 2021 03 14;58(3):e13747. Epub 2020 Dec 14.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.

People with normal hearing can usually follow one of the several concurrent speakers. Speech tempo affects both the separation of concurrent speech streams and information extraction from them. The current study varied the tempo of two concurrent speech streams to investigate these processes in a multi-talker situation. Listeners performed a target-detection and a content-tracking task, while target-related ERPs and functional brain networks sensitive to speech tempo were extracted from the EEG signal. At slower than normal speech tempo, building the two streams required longer processing times, and possibly the utilization of higher-order, for example, syntactic and semantic cues. The observed longer reaction times and higher connectivity strength in a theta band network associated with frontal control over auditory/speech processing are compatible with this notion. With increasing tempo, target detection performance decreased and the N2b and the P3b amplitudes increased. These data suggest an increased need for strictly allocating target-detection-related resources at higher tempo. This was also reflected by the observed increase in the strength of gamma-band networks within and between frontal, temporal, and cingular areas. At the fastest tested speech tempo, there was a sharp drop in recognition memory performance, while target detection performance increased compared to the normal speech tempo. This was accompanied by a significant increase in the strength of a low alpha network associated with the suppression of task-irrelevant speech. These results suggest that participants prioritized the immediate target detection task over the continuous content tracking, likely due to some capacity limit reached the fastest speech tempo.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13747DOI Listing
March 2021

Special Report on the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Clinical EEG and Research and Consensus Recommendations for the Safe Use of EEG.

Clin EEG Neurosci 2021 Jan 25;52(1):3-28. Epub 2020 Sep 25.

Clinical Neurophysiology Research Laboratory, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Introduction: The global COVID-19 pandemic has affected the economy, daily life, and mental/physical health. The latter includes the use of electroencephalography (EEG) in clinical practice and research. We report a survey of the impact of COVID-19 on the use of clinical EEG in practice and research in several countries, and the recommendations of an international panel of experts for the safe application of EEG during and after this pandemic.

Methods: Fifteen clinicians from 8 different countries and 25 researchers from 13 different countries reported the impact of COVID-19 on their EEG activities, the procedures implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and precautions planned or already implemented during the reopening of EEG activities.

Results: Of the 15 clinical centers responding, 11 reported a total stoppage of all EEG activities, while 4 reduced the number of tests per day. In research settings, all 25 laboratories reported a complete stoppage of activity, with 7 laboratories reopening to some extent since initial closure. In both settings, recommended precautions for restarting or continuing EEG recording included strict hygienic rules, social distance, and assessment for infection symptoms among staff and patients/participants.

Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic interfered with the use of EEG recordings in clinical practice and even more in clinical research. We suggest updated best practices to allow safe EEG recordings in both research and clinical settings. The continued use of EEG is important in those with psychiatric diseases, particularly in times of social alarm such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1550059420954054DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8121213PMC
January 2021

The effects of speech processing units on auditory stream segregation and selective attention in a multi-talker (cocktail party) situation.

Cortex 2020 09 1;130:387-400. Epub 2020 Jul 1.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.

Speech unfolds at different time scales. Therefore, neuronal mechanisms involved in speech processing should likewise operate at different (corresponding) time scales. The present study aimed to identify speech units relevant for selecting speech streams in a multi-talker situation. Functional connectivity was extracted from the continuous EEG while young adults detected targets within one stream in the presence of a different, task-irrelevant stream. In two separate groups, either the attended or the ignored stream was manipulated so that it contained intact, word-wise scrambled, syllable-wise scrambled, or spectrally scrambled speech. We found functional brain networks that were sensitive to the difference between the situations when speech was meaningful at sentence vs. at word level, but not between when speech was meaningful at word vs. only valid at syllable level, irrespective of whether the speech units were manipulated in the attended or the ignored stream. These functional brain networks operated in the delta and theta bands corresponding to integrating information from longer time windows. Further, the networks, which could be linked with suppressing information from the to-be-ignored stream included brain areas associated with high-level processing of speech. These results are compatible with late filtering models of auditory attention, as they suggest that the length of intact speech units in the to-be-ignored stream affects processes of attentional selection. However, we found no evidence for speech-to-brain coupling differences as a function of the intact unit of speech in either stream. Thus, although the current results do not rule out that early processes of speech processing affect stream selection in a cocktail party situation, neither do they provide supporting for it.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2020.06.007DOI Listing
September 2020

Spatial cues can support auditory figure-ground segregation.

J Acoust Soc Am 2020 06;147(6):3814

Carnegie Mellon Neuroscience Institute, Department of Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.

A study by Tóth, Kocsis, Háden, Szerafin, Shinn-Cunningham, and Winkler [Neuroimage 141, 108 - 119 (2016)] reported that spatial cues (such as interaural differences or ITDs) that differentiate the perceived sound source directions of a target tone sequence (figure) from simultaneous distracting tones (background) did not improve the ability of participants to detect the target sequence. The present study aims to investigate more systematically whether spatially separating a complex auditory "figure" from the background auditory stream may enhance the detection of a target in a cluttered auditory scene. Results of the presented experiment suggest that the previous negative results arose because of the specific experimental conditions tested. Here the authors find that ITDs provide a clear benefit for detecting a target tone sequence amid a mixture of other simultaneous tone bursts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/10.0001387DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7928055PMC
June 2020

Linguistic predictability influences auditory stimulus classification within two concurrent speech streams.

Psychophysiology 2020 05 12;57(5):e13547. Epub 2020 Feb 12.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.

Acoustic predictability has been shown to affect auditory stream segregation, while linguistic predictability is known to be an important factor in speech comprehension. We tested the effects of linguistic predictability on auditory stream segregation and target detection by assessing the event-related potentials elicited by targets and distractors in participants presented with two concurrent speech streams. The linguistic cues of predictability varied over four levels. In the three real speech conditions, natural speech was presented with intact phonotactics and sentence prosody: normal speech, word-salad (randomized word order within each sentence), and pseudo-words (randomized syllable order within each sentence). The fourth (control) condition delivered a spectrally rotated version of the normal speech condition. Participants were instructed to attend one stream and respond to the natural cough sounds embedded in it. Coughs were present in both streams, serving as targets in the attended and as distractors in the unattended stream. We expected improved target detection with increasing linguistic predictability. The target-related N2b component's amplitude monotonically increased from the pseudo-word to the word-salad and normal speech condition, while no predictability effects were observed for the P3b amplitude or for behavioral responses. The dissociation between the N2b and P3b/behavioral effect suggests that while linguistic predictability enhanced the process of classifying stimuli as potential targets, this did not affect their detection. Furthermore, the observed nonmonotonic distractor N2 (probably MMN) amplitude increase with increasing linguistic predictability is compatible with the notion that linguistic predictability can modulate auditory stream segregation and/or stream selection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13547DOI Listing
May 2020

Setting precedent: Initial feature variability affects the subsequent precision of regularly varying sound contexts.

Psychophysiology 2020 04 23;57(4):e13528. Epub 2020 Jan 23.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.

The task of making sense of the world around us is supported by brain processes that simplify the environment. For example, repetitive patterns of sensory input help us to predict future events. This study builds on work, suggesting that sensory predictions are heavily influenced by first impressions. We presented healthy adults with a sequence comprising three sounds each differing from the other two on three dimensions; for simplicity A, B and C. These three sounds were arranged in blocks where two were equally common and one was rare, and the probabilities rotated creating three different block types (i.e., probabilities, A < B = C, B < A = C, C < A = B). Sequences included two of each block type with three versions-one starting with A < B = C, one with B < A = C and one with C < A = B. The common tone evoked responses in any given block were highly suppressed consistent with the auditory system predicting regular events, while the rare tone in each block elicited a larger response signaling a prediction error. However, results indicated that the auditory system assessed the configurations in which the two common tones were adjacent in space (within the three locations used) as less volatile compared to when they were highly separate. When the more volatile environment was encountered at the beginning of the sequence, all deviance-related responses were significantly lower in amplitude. Results suggest that the representation of a stimulus configuration is affected by the estimate drawn from the initial context, expanding our notion of the nature of primacy bias to include powerful effects of initial feature variance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13528DOI Listing
April 2020

Short-term cognitive fatigue effect on auditory temporal order judgments.

Exp Brain Res 2020 Feb 3;238(2):305-319. Epub 2020 Jan 3.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Magyar Tudósok Körútja 2, Budapest, 1117, Hungary.

Fatigue is a core symptom in many psychological disorders and it can strongly influence everyday productivity. As fatigue effects have been typically demonstrated after long hours of time on task, it was surprising that in a previous study, we accidentally found a decline of temporal order judgment (TOJ) performance within 5-8 min. After replicating prior relevant findings we tested whether pauses and/or feedback relating the participant's performance to some "standard" can eliminate or reduce this short-term performance decline. We also assessed whether the performance decline is specific to the processes evoked by the TOJ task or it is a product of either general inattentiveness or the lack of willingness to thoroughly follow the task instructions. We found that both feedback and introducing pauses between successive measurements can largely reduce the performance decline, and that these two manipulations likely mobilize overlapping capacities. Performance decline was not present in a similar task when controlling for the TOJ threshold and it was not a result of uncooperative behavior. Therefore, we conclude that the TOJ threshold decline is either specific to temporal processing in general or to the TOJ task employed in the study. Overall, the results are compatible with the notion that the decline of TOJ threshold with repeated measures represents a short-term cognitive fatigue effect. This objective fatigue measure did not correlate with subjective fatigue. The latter was rather related to perceived difficulty/effort, the reduction of positive affectivity, heightened sensitivity to criticism, and the best TOJ threshold.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00221-019-05712-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7007914PMC
February 2020

Newborn infants differently process adult directed and infant directed speech.

Int J Psychophysiol 2020 01 16;147:107-112. Epub 2019 Nov 16.

Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Magyar tudósok körútja 2, H-1117 Budapest, Hungary.

Infant directed speech (IDS) may serve important functions in language acquisition and in adult-infant communication. The processing of IDS evolves during the first years of life. In order to serve as an effective tool of language acquisition, already very young infants should be able to distinguish IDS from adult directed speech (ADS). We tested whether the ability to discriminate these two speech registers is functional in neonates, by recording EEG from 98 newborn infants in response to Hungarian words naturally spoken in the IDS and the ADS register. Words presented in the ADS register elicited a centro-parietal slow positivity in the 200-600 ms time window whereas words in IDS register elicited a small frontal negativity in the 700-900 ms time window. We conclude that newborn infants differentiate natural speech sounds based on speech register.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2019.10.011DOI Listing
January 2020

Children's perception of visual and auditory ambiguity and its link to executive functions and creativity.

J Exp Child Psychol 2019 08 3;184:123-138. Epub 2019 May 3.

Cognition Institute and School of Psychology, University of Plymouth, Plymouth PL4 8AA, UK.

The phenomenon of perceptual bistability provides insights into aspects of perceptual processing not normally accessible to everyday experience. However, most experiments have been conducted in adults, and it is not clear to what extent key aspects of perceptual switching change through development. The current research examined the ability of 6-, 8-, and 10-year-old children (N = 66) to switch between competing percepts of ambiguous visual and auditory stimuli and links between switching rate, executive functions, and creativity. The numbers of switches participants reported in two visual tasks (ambiguous figure and ambiguous structure from motion) and two auditory tasks (verbal transformation and auditory streaming) were measured in three 60-s blocks. In addition, inhibitory control was measured with a Stroop task, set shifting was measured with a verbal fluency task, and creativity was measured with a divergent thinking task. The numbers of perceptual switches increased in all four tasks from 6 to 10 years of age but differed across tasks in that they were higher in the verbal transformation and ambigous structure-from-motion tasks than in the ambigous figure and auditory streaming tasks for all age groups. Although perceptual switching rates differed across tasks, there were predictive relationships between switching rates in some tasks. However, little evidence for the influence of central processes on perceptual switching was found. Overall, the results support the notion that perceptual switching is largely modality and task specific and that this property is already evident when perceptual switching emerges.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2019.03.010DOI Listing
August 2019

Neuronal Correlates of Informational and Energetic Masking in the Human Brain in a Multi-Talker Situation.

Front Psychol 2019 9;10:786. Epub 2019 Apr 9.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.

Human listeners can follow the voice of one speaker while several others are talking at the same time. This process requires segregating the speech streams from each other and continuously directing attention to the target stream. We investigated the functional brain networks underlying this ability. Two speech streams were presented simultaneously to participants, who followed one of them and detected targets within it (target stream). The loudness of the distractor speech stream varied on five levels: moderately softer, slightly softer, equal, slightly louder, or moderately louder than the attended. Performance measures showed that the most demanding task was the moderately softer distractors condition, which indicates that a softer distractor speech may receive more covert attention than louder distractors and, therefore, they require more cognitive resources. EEG-based measurement of functional connectivity between various brain regions revealed frequency-band specific networks: (1) energetic masking (comparing the louder distractor conditions with the equal loudness condition) was predominantly associated with stronger connectivity between the frontal and temporal regions at the lower alpha (8-10 Hz) and gamma (30-70 Hz) bands; (2) informational masking (comparing the softer distractor conditions with the equal loudness condition) was associated with a distributed network between parietal, frontal, and temporal regions at the theta (4-8 Hz) and beta (13-30 Hz) bands. These results suggest the presence of distinct cognitive and neural processes for solving the interference from energetic vs. informational masking.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00786DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6465330PMC
April 2019

Temporal boundary of auditory event formation: An electrophysiological marker.

Int J Psychophysiol 2019 06 19;140:53-61. Epub 2019 Apr 19.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary. Electronic address:

The formation of auditory events requires integration between successive sounds. There is a temporal limit below which a single sound event is perceived while above which a second perceptual event is formed. Behavioral studies applying the Temporal Order Judgment paradigm showed that this boundary is between 20 and 70 ms. Here we provide event-related potential (ERP) evidence from two experiments showing a qualitative change in the processing of tone pairs between 25 and 75 ms within-pair inter-stimulus intervals (ISI). We also show that this temporal boundary can be influenced by the immediate acoustical context, the statistical distribution of the ISIs within the sequence of tone-pairs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2019.04.006DOI Listing
June 2019

Attention and speech-processing related functional brain networks activated in a multi-speaker environment.

PLoS One 2019 28;14(2):e0212754. Epub 2019 Feb 28.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.

Human listeners can focus on one speech stream out of several concurrent ones. The present study aimed to assess the whole-brain functional networks underlying a) the process of focusing attention on a single speech stream vs. dividing attention between two streams and 2) speech processing on different time-scales and depth. Two spoken narratives were presented simultaneously while listeners were instructed to a) track and memorize the contents of a speech stream and b) detect the presence of numerals or syntactic violations in the same ("focused attended condition") or in the parallel stream ("divided attended condition"). Speech content tracking was found to be associated with stronger connectivity in lower frequency bands (delta band- 0,5-4 Hz), whereas the detection tasks were linked with networks operating in the faster alpha (8-10 Hz) and beta (13-30 Hz) bands. These results suggest that the oscillation frequencies of the dominant brain networks during speech processing may be related to the duration of the time window within which information is integrated. We also found that focusing attention on a single speaker compared to dividing attention between two concurrent speakers was predominantly associated with connections involving the frontal cortices in the delta (0.5-4 Hz), alpha (8-10 Hz), and beta bands (13-30 Hz), whereas dividing attention between two parallel speech streams was linked with stronger connectivity involving the parietal cortices in the delta and beta frequency bands. Overall, connections strengthened by focused attention may reflect control over information selection, whereas connections strengthened by divided attention may reflect the need for maintaining two streams in parallel and the related control processes necessary for performing the tasks.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0212754PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6394951PMC
December 2019

The role of temporal integration in auditory stream segregation.

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 2018 Nov 19;44(11):1683-1693. Epub 2018 Jul 19.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology.

Grouping distinct, temporally separated sounds is assumed to follow Gestalt principles, such as similarity or proximity. In the auditory streaming paradigm, the probability of perceiving all sounds as part of the same repeating pattern (the integrated percept) increases when the interstimulus interval (ISI) is increased from medium to long intervals. However, ISIs shorter than 50 ms have not been systematically explored. Here we show that below ca. 60-ms intervals the direction of the effect of ISI on perception is reversed compared to longer ISIs: Decreasing the ISI increases the probability of the integrated percept. This suggests that temporal proximity plays a different role in auditory stream segregation at very short than at longer ISIs. As the effect of temporal proximity may vary among individuals, we tested whether the proportion of the integrated reports with short ISIs could be associated with individual differences in the temporal resolution of the central auditory system. We found that individual differences in the temporal integration threshold (as measured by a temporal order judgment task) correlated with the percentage of integrated percept reports in some of the short-ISI regions. Although this result cannot be regarded as strong evidence, it is compatible with the notion that temporal integration plays a role in auditory stream segregation at short ISIs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xhp0000564DOI Listing
November 2018

The cognitive resource and foreknowledge dependence of auditory perceptual inference.

Neuropsychologia 2018 08 4;117:379-388. Epub 2018 Jul 4.

School of Psychology, University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan 2308, NSW, Australia.

Auditory perceptual inference engages learning of complex statistical information about the environment. Inferences assist us to simplify perception highlighting what can be predicted on the basis of prior learning (through the formation of internal "prediction" models) and what might be new, potentially necessitating an investment of resources to remodel predictions. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that sound sequences with multiple levels of predictability may rely on cognitive resources and be cognitively penetrable to a greater extent than was previously shown by studies presenting simpler sound sequences. Auditory-evoked potentials (AEPs) were recorded from 117 participants. All participants heard the exact same sound sequence but under different conditions: 51 while watching a DVD movie and 66 while performing a cognitively demanding task. Participants were asked to ignore the sounds and focus their attention on the movie/task. However, prior to commencing the experiment we manipulated what participants knew about the sound sequence by providing explicit sequence information to 15 and 34 of the participants in the DVD and cognitive-task conditions, respectively, and no information to the others. The results demonstrated that although local pattern violations elicited distinctive AEP responses (namely, mismatch negativity), the way the amplitude of this response was modulated by sequence learning over time was dependent upon both task and explicit sequence knowledge. The implications are discussed with reference to how the division of available attention resources between the primary task and concurrent sound impacts what is learned.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.07.005DOI Listing
August 2018

The effects of attention and task-relevance on the processing of syntactic violations during listening to two concurrent speech streams.

Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci 2018 10;18(5):932-948

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Magyar tudósok krt. 2, Budapest, H-1117, Hungary.

The notion of automatic syntactic analysis received support from some event-related potential (ERP) studies. However, none of these studies tested syntax processing in the presence of a concurrent speech stream. Here we present two concurrent continuous speech streams, manipulating two variables potentially affecting speech processing in a fully crossed design: attention (focused vs. divided) and task (lexical - detecting numerals vs. syntactical - detecting syntactic violations). ERPs elicited by syntactic violations and numerals as targets were compared with those for distractors (task-relevant events in the unattended speech stream) and attended and unattended task-irrelevant events. As was expected, only target numerals elicited the N2b and P3 components. The amplitudes of these components did not significantly differ between focused and divided attention. Both task-relevant and task-irrelevant syntactic violations elicited the N400 ERP component within the attended but not in the unattended speech stream. P600 was only elicited by target syntactic violations. These results provide no support for the notion of automatic syntactic analysis. Rather, it appears that task-relevance is a prerequisite of P600 elicitation, implying that in-depth syntactic analysis occurs only for attended speech under everyday listening situations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13415-018-0614-4DOI Listing
October 2018

Similar but separate systems underlie perceptual bistability in vision and audition.

Sci Rep 2018 05 8;8(1):7106. Epub 2018 May 8.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre of Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, H-1117, Budapest, Magyartudósok körútja 2, Hungary.

The dynamics of perceptual bistability, the phenomenon in which perception switches between different interpretations of an unchanging stimulus, are characterised by very similar properties across a wide range of qualitatively different paradigms. This suggests that perceptual switching may be triggered by some common source. However, it is also possible that perceptual switching may arise from a distributed system, whose components vary according to the specifics of the perceptual experiences involved. Here we used a visual and an auditory task to determine whether individuals show cross-modal commonalities in perceptual switching. We found that individual perceptual switching rates were significantly correlated across modalities. We then asked whether perceptual switching arises from some central (modality-) task-independent process or from a more distributed task-specific system. We found that a log-normal distribution best explained the distribution of perceptual phases in both modalities, suggestive of a combined set of independent processes causing perceptual switching. Modality- and/or task-dependent differences in these distributions, and lack of correlation with the modality-independent central factors tested (ego-resiliency, creativity, and executive function), also point towards perceptual switching arising from a distributed system of similar but independent processes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-25587-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5940790PMC
May 2018

Predictive coding in auditory perception: challenges and unresolved questions.

Eur J Neurosci 2020 03 16;51(5):1151-1160. Epub 2018 Jan 16.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.

Predictive coding is arguably the currently dominant theoretical framework for the study of perception. It has been employed to explain important auditory perceptual phenomena, and it has inspired theoretical, experimental and computational modelling efforts aimed at describing how the auditory system parses the complex sound input into meaningful units (auditory scene analysis). These efforts have uncovered some vital questions, addressing which could help to further specify predictive coding and clarify some of its basic assumptions. The goal of the current review is to motivate these questions and show how unresolved issues in explaining some auditory phenomena lead to general questions of the theoretical framework. We focus on experimental and computational modelling issues related to sequential grouping in auditory scene analysis (auditory pattern detection and bistable perception), as we believe that this is the research topic where predictive coding has the highest potential for advancing our understanding. In addition to specific questions, our analysis led us to identify three more general questions that require further clarification: (1) What exactly is meant by prediction in predictive coding? (2) What governs which generative models make the predictions? and (3) What (if it exists) is the correlate of perceptual experience within the predictive coding framework?
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ejn.13802DOI Listing
March 2020

Corrigendum to "EEG signatures accompanying auditory figure-ground segregation" [NeuroImage (2017) volume 141, pp. 108-119].

Neuroimage 2018 05 9;172:915. Epub 2017 Dec 9.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary; Department of Cognitive and Neuropsychology, Institute of Psychology, University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.12.001DOI Listing
May 2018

Functional brain networks underlying idiosyncratic switching patterns in multi-stable auditory perception.

Neuropsychologia 2018 01 2;108:82-91. Epub 2017 Dec 2.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Magyar tudósok körútja 2, H-1117 Budapest, Hungary.

In perceptual multi-stability, perception stochastically switches between alternative interpretations of the stimulus allowing examination of perceptual experience independent of stimulus parameters. Previous studies found that listeners show temporally stable idiosyncratic switching patterns when listening to a multi-stable auditory stimulus, such as in the auditory streaming paradigm. This inter-individual variability can be described along two dimensions, Exploration and Segregation. In the current study, we explored the functional brain networks associated with these dimensions and their constituents using electroencephalography. Results showed that Segregation and its constituents are related to brain networks operating in the theta EEG band, whereas Exploration and its constituents are related to networks in the lower and upper alpha and beta bands. Thus, the dimensions on which individuals' perception differ from each other in the auditory streaming paradigm probably reflect separate perceptual processes in the human brain. Further, the results suggest that networks mainly located in left auditory areas underlie the perception of integration, whereas perceiving the alternative patterns is accompanied by stronger interhemispheric connections.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.11.032DOI Listing
January 2018

Large-scale network organization of EEG functional connectivity in newborn infants.

Hum Brain Mapp 2017 08 10;38(8):4019-4033. Epub 2017 May 10.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.

The organization of functional brain networks changes across human lifespan. The present study analyzed functional brain networks in healthy full-term infants (N = 139) within 1-6 days from birth by measuring neural synchrony in EEG recordings during quiet sleep. Large-scale phase synchronization was measured in six frequency bands with the Phase Lag Index. Macroscopic network organization characteristics were quantified by constructing unweighted minimum spanning tree graphs. The cortical networks in early infancy were found to be significantly more hierarchical and had a more cost-efficient organization compared with MST of random control networks, more so in the theta and alpha than in other frequency bands. Frontal and parietal sites acted as the main hubs of these networks, the topological characteristics of which were associated with gestation age (GA). This suggests that individual differences in network topology are related to cortical maturation during the prenatal period, when functional networks shift from strictly centralized toward segregated configurations. Hum Brain Mapp 38:4019-4033, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.23645DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6867159PMC
August 2017

Auditory multistability and neurotransmitter concentrations in the human brain.

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 2017 02 2;372(1714). Epub 2017 Jan 2.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Magyar Tudósok körútja 2, 1117 Budapest, Hungary.

Multistability in perception is a powerful tool for investigating sensory-perceptual transformations, because it produces dissociations between sensory inputs and subjective experience. Spontaneous switching between different perceptual objects occurs during prolonged listening to a sound sequence of tone triplets or repeated words (termed auditory streaming and verbal transformations, respectively). We used these examples of auditory multistability to examine to what extent neurochemical and cognitive factors influence the observed idiosyncratic patterns of switching between perceptual objects. The concentrations of glutamate-glutamine (Glx) and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in brain regions were measured by magnetic resonance spectroscopy, while personality traits and executive functions were assessed using questionnaires and response inhibition tasks. Idiosyncratic patterns of perceptual switching in the two multistable stimulus configurations were identified using a multidimensional scaling (MDS) analysis. Intriguingly, although switching patterns within each individual differed between auditory streaming and verbal transformations, similar MDS dimensions were extracted separately from the two datasets. Individual switching patterns were significantly correlated with Glx and GABA concentrations in auditory cortex and inferior frontal cortex but not with the personality traits and executive functions. Our results suggest that auditory perceptual organization depends on the balance between neural excitation and inhibition in different brain regions.This article is part of the themed issue 'Auditory and visual scene analysis'.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2016.0110DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5206277PMC
February 2017

Computational Models of Auditory Scene Analysis: A Review.

Front Neurosci 2016 15;10:524. Epub 2016 Nov 15.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences Budapest, Hungary.

Auditory scene analysis (ASA) refers to the process (es) of parsing the complex acoustic input into auditory perceptual objects representing either physical sources or temporal sound patterns, such as melodies, which contributed to the sound waves reaching the ears. A number of new computational models accounting for some of the perceptual phenomena of ASA have been published recently. Here we provide a theoretically motivated review of these computational models, aiming to relate their guiding principles to the central issues of the theoretical framework of ASA. Specifically, we ask how they achieve the grouping and separation of sound elements and whether they implement some form of competition between alternative interpretations of the sound input. We consider the extent to which they include predictive processes, as important current theories suggest that perception is inherently predictive, and also how they have been evaluated. We conclude that current computational models of ASA are fragmentary in the sense that rather than providing general competing interpretations of ASA, they focus on assessing the utility of specific processes (or algorithms) for finding the causes of the complex acoustic signal. This leaves open the possibility for integrating complementary aspects of the models into a more comprehensive theory of ASA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2016.00524DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5108797PMC
November 2016

Transitional Probabilities Are Prioritized over Stimulus/Pattern Probabilities in Auditory Deviance Detection: Memory Basis for Predictive Sound Processing.

J Neurosci 2016 09;36(37):9572-9

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, H-1519 Budapest, Hungary

Unlabelled: Representations encoding the probabilities of auditory events do not directly support predictive processing. In contrast, information about the probability with which a given sound follows another (transitional probability) allows predictions of upcoming sounds. We tested whether behavioral and cortical auditory deviance detection (the latter indexed by the mismatch negativity event-related potential) relies on probabilities of sound patterns or on transitional probabilities. We presented healthy adult volunteers with three types of rare tone-triplets among frequent standard triplets of high-low-high (H-L-H) or L-H-L pitch structure: proximity deviant (H-H-H/L-L-L), reversal deviant (L-H-L/H-L-H), and first-tone deviant (L-L-H/H-H-L). If deviance detection was based on pattern probability, reversal and first-tone deviants should be detected with similar latency because both differ from the standard at the first pattern position. If deviance detection was based on transitional probabilities, then reversal deviants should be the most difficult to detect because, unlike the other two deviants, they contain no low-probability pitch transitions. The data clearly showed that both behavioral and cortical auditory deviance detection uses transitional probabilities. Thus, the memory traces underlying cortical deviance detection may provide a link between stimulus probability-based change/novelty detectors operating at lower levels of the auditory system and higher auditory cognitive functions that involve predictive processing.

Significance Statement: Our research presents the first definite evidence for the auditory system prioritizing transitional probabilities over probabilities of individual sensory events. Forming representations for transitional probabilities paves the way for predictions of upcoming sounds. Several recent theories suggest that predictive processing provides the general basis of human perception, including important auditory functions, such as auditory scene analysis. Our results demonstrate that the memory traces underlying cortical deviance detection form a link between stimulus probability-based change/novelty detectors operating at lower levels of the auditory system and higher auditory cognitive functions that involve predictive processing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1041-16.2016DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6601944PMC
September 2016

EEG signatures accompanying auditory figure-ground segregation.

Neuroimage 2016 Nov 12;141:108-119. Epub 2016 Jul 12.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary; Department of Cognitive and Neuropsychology, Institute of Psychology, University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary.

In everyday acoustic scenes, figure-ground segregation typically requires one to group together sound elements over both time and frequency. Electroencephalogram was recorded while listeners detected repeating tonal complexes composed of a random set of pure tones within stimuli consisting of randomly varying tonal elements. The repeating pattern was perceived as a figure over the randomly changing background. It was found that detection performance improved both as the number of pure tones making up each repeated complex (figure coherence) increased, and as the number of repeated complexes (duration) increased - i.e., detection was easier when either the spectral or temporal structure of the figure was enhanced. Figure detection was accompanied by the elicitation of the object related negativity (ORN) and the P400 event-related potentials (ERPs), which have been previously shown to be evoked by the presence of two concurrent sounds. Both ERP components had generators within and outside of auditory cortex. The amplitudes of the ORN and the P400 increased with both figure coherence and figure duration. However, only the P400 amplitude correlated with detection performance. These results suggest that 1) the ORN and P400 reflect processes involved in detecting the emergence of a new auditory object in the presence of other concurrent auditory objects; 2) the ORN corresponds to the likelihood of the presence of two or more concurrent sound objects, whereas the P400 reflects the perceptual recognition of the presence of multiple auditory objects and/or preparation for reporting the detection of a target object.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.07.028DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5656226PMC
November 2016

Promoting the perception of two and three concurrent sound objects: An event-related potential study.

Int J Psychophysiol 2016 09 1;107:16-28. Epub 2016 Jul 1.

Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Centre, 3560 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario M6A 2E1, Canada; Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, 100 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G3, Canada. Electronic address:

The auditory environment typically comprises several simultaneously active sound sources. In contrast to the perceptual segregation of two concurrent sounds, the perception of three simultaneous sound objects has not yet been studied systematically. We conducted two experiments in which participants were presented with complex sounds containing sound segregation cues (mistuning, onset asynchrony, differences in frequency or amplitude modulation or in sound location), which were set up to promote the perceptual organization of the tonal elements into one, two, or three concurrent sounds. In Experiment 1, listeners indicated whether they heard one, two, or three concurrent sounds. In Experiment 2, participants watched a silent subtitled movie while EEG was recorded to extract the object-related negativity (ORN) component of the event-related potential. Listeners predominantly reported hearing two sounds when the segregation promoting manipulations were applied to the same tonal element. When two different tonal elements received manipulations promoting them to be heard as separate auditory objects, participants reported hearing two and three concurrent sounds objects with equal probability. The ORN was elicited in most conditions; sounds that included the amplitude- or the frequency-modulation cue generated the smallest ORN amplitudes. Manipulating two different tonal elements yielded numerically and often significantly smaller ORNs than the sum of the ORNs elicited when the same cues were applied on a single tonal element. These results suggest that ORN reflects the presence of multiple concurrent sounds, but not their number. The ORN results are compatible with the horse-race principle of combining different cues of concurrent sound segregation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2016.06.016DOI Listing
September 2016

Theta oscillations accompanying concurrent auditory stream segregation.

Int J Psychophysiol 2016 08 8;106:141-51. Epub 2016 May 8.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary; Department of Cognitive and Neuropsychology, Institute of Psychology, University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary.

The ability to isolate a single sound source among concurrent sources is crucial for veridical auditory perception. The present study investigated the event-related oscillations evoked by complex tones, which could be perceived as a single sound and tonal complexes with cues promoting the perception of two concurrent sounds by inharmonicity, onset asynchrony, and/or perceived source location difference of the components tones. In separate task conditions, participants performed a visual change detection task (visual control), watched a silent movie (passive listening) or reported for each tone whether they perceived one or two concurrent sounds (active listening). In two time windows, the amplitude of theta oscillation was modulated by the presence vs. absence of the cues: 60-350ms/6-8Hz (early) and 350-450ms/4-8Hz (late). The early response appeared both in the passive and the active listening conditions; it did not closely match the task performance; and it had a fronto-central scalp distribution. The late response was only elicited in the active listening condition; it closely matched the task performance; and it had a centro-parietal scalp distribution. The neural processes reflected by these responses are probably involved in the processing of concurrent sound segregation cues, in sound categorization, and response preparation and monitoring. The current results are compatible with the notion that theta oscillations mediate some of the processes involved in concurrent sound segregation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2016.05.002DOI Listing
August 2016

Auditory Multi-Stability: Idiosyncratic Perceptual Switching Patterns, Executive Functions and Personality Traits.

PLoS One 2016 2;11(5):e0154810. Epub 2016 May 2.

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.

Multi-stability refers to the phenomenon of perception stochastically switching between possible interpretations of an unchanging stimulus. Despite considerable variability, individuals show stable idiosyncratic patterns of switching between alternative perceptions in the auditory streaming paradigm. We explored correlates of the individual switching patterns with executive functions, personality traits, and creativity. The main dimensions on which individual switching patterns differed from each other were identified using multidimensional scaling. Individuals with high scores on the dimension explaining the largest portion of the inter-individual variance switched more often between the alternative perceptions than those with low scores. They also perceived the most unusual interpretation more often, and experienced all perceptual alternatives with a shorter delay from stimulus onset. The ego-resiliency personality trait, which reflects a tendency for adaptive flexibility and experience seeking, was significantly positively related to this dimension. Taking these results together we suggest that this dimension may reflect the individual's tendency for exploring the auditory environment. Executive functions were significantly related to some of the variables describing global properties of the switching patterns, such as the average number of switches. Thus individual patterns of perceptual switching in the auditory streaming paradigm are related to some personality traits and executive functions.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0154810PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4852918PMC
July 2017

Assessing the validity of subjective reports in the auditory streaming paradigm.

J Acoust Soc Am 2016 04;139(4):1762

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.

While subjective reports provide a direct measure of perception, their validity is not self-evident. Here, the authors tested three possible biasing effects on perceptual reports in the auditory streaming paradigm: errors due to imperfect understanding of the instructions, voluntary perceptual biasing, and susceptibility to implicit expectations. (1) Analysis of the responses to catch trials separately promoting each of the possible percepts allowed the authors to exclude participants who likely have not fully understood the instructions. (2) Explicit biasing instructions led to markedly different behavior than the conventional neutral-instruction condition, suggesting that listeners did not voluntarily bias their perception in a systematic way under the neutral instructions. Comparison with a random response condition further supported this conclusion. (3) No significant relationship was found between social desirability, a scale-based measure of susceptibility to implicit social expectations, and any of the perceptual measures extracted from the subjective reports. This suggests that listeners did not significantly bias their perceptual reports due to possible implicit expectations present in the experimental context. In sum, these results suggest that valid perceptual data can be obtained from subjective reports in the auditory streaming paradigm.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4945720DOI Listing
April 2016

Relative Pitch Perception and the Detection of Deviant Tone Patterns.

Adv Exp Med Biol 2016 ;894:409-417

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.

Most people are able to recognise familiar tunes even when played in a different key. It is assumed that this depends on a general capacity for relative pitch perception; the ability to recognise the pattern of inter-note intervals that characterises the tune. However, when healthy adults are required to detect rare deviant melodic patterns in a sequence of randomly transposed standard patterns they perform close to chance. Musically experienced participants perform better than naïve participants, but even they find the task difficult, despite the fact that musical education includes training in interval recognition.To understand the source of this difficulty we designed an experiment to explore the relative influence of the size of within-pattern intervals and between-pattern transpositions on detecting deviant melodic patterns. We found that task difficulty increases when patterns contain large intervals (5-7 semitones) rather than small intervals (1-3 semitones). While task difficulty increases substantially when transpositions are introduced, the effect of transposition size (large vs small) is weaker. Increasing the range of permissible intervals to be used also makes the task more difficult. Furthermore, providing an initial exact repetition followed by subsequent transpositions does not improve performance. Although musical training correlates with task performance, we find no evidence that violations to musical intervals important in Western music (i.e. the perfect fifth or fourth) are more easily detected. In summary, relative pitch perception does not appear to be conducive to simple explanations based exclusively on invariant physical ratios.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-25474-6_43DOI Listing
September 2016