Interarticulator programming in VCV sequences: lip and tongue movements.
This study examined the temporal phasing of tongue and lip movements in vowel-consonant-vowel sequences where the consonant is a bilabial stop consonant /p, b/ and the vowels one of /i, a, u/; only asymmetrical vowel contexts were included in the analysis. Four subjects participated. Articulatory movements were recorded using a magnetometer system. The onset of the tongue movement from the first to the second vowel almost always occurred before the oral closure. Most of the tongue movement trajectory from the first to the second vowel took place during the oral closure for the stop. For all subjects, the onset of the tongue movement occurred earlier with respect to the onset of the lip closing movement as the tongue movement trajectory increased. The influence of consonant voicing and vowel context on interarticulator timing and tongue movement kinematics varied across subjects. Overall, the results are compatible with the hypothesis that there is a temporal window before the oral closure for the stop during which the tongue movement can start. A very early onset of the tongue movement relative to the stop closure together with an extensive movement before the closure would most likely produce an extra vowel sound before the closure. (+info
Stimulus-based state control in the thalamocortical system.
Neural systems operate in various dynamic states that determine how they process information (Livingstone and Hubel, 1981; Funke and Eysel, 1992; Morrow and Casey, 1992; Abeles et al., 1995; Guido et al., 1995; Mukherjee and Kaplan, 1995; Kenmochi and Eggermont, 1997; Worgotter et al., 1998; Kisley and Gerstein, 1999). To investigate the function of a brain area, it is therefore crucial to determine the state of that system. One grave difficulty is that even under well controlled conditions, the thalamocortical network may undergo random dynamic state fluctuations which alter the most basic spatial and temporal response properties of the neurons. These uncontrolled state changes hinder the evaluation of state-specific properties of neural processing and, consequently, the interpretation of thalamocortical function. Simultaneous extracellular recordings were made in the auditory thalamus and cortex of the ketamine-anesthetized cat under several stimulus conditions. By considering the cellular and network mechanisms that govern state changes, we develop a complex stimulus that controls the dynamic state of the thalamocortical network. Traditional auditory stimuli have ambivalent effects on thalamocortical state, sometimes eliciting an oscillatory state prevalent in sleeping animals and other times suppressing it. By contrast, our complex stimulus clamps the network in a dynamic state resembling that observed in the alert animal. It thus allows evaluation of neural information processing not confounded by uncontrolled variations. Stimulus-based state control illustrates a general and direct mechanism whereby the functional modes of the brain are influenced by structural features of the external world. (+info
Acoustic noise during functional magnetic resonance imaging.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) enables sites of brain activation to be localized in human subjects. For studies of the auditory system, acoustic noise generated during fMRI can interfere with assessments of this activation by introducing uncontrolled extraneous sounds. As a first step toward reducing the noise during fMRI, this paper describes the temporal and spectral characteristics of the noise present under typical fMRI study conditions for two imagers with different static magnetic field strengths. Peak noise levels were 123 and 138 dB re 20 microPa in a 1.5-tesla (T) and a 3-T imager, respectively. The noise spectrum (calculated over a 10-ms window coinciding with the highest-amplitude noise) showed a prominent maximum at 1 kHz for the 1.5-T imager (115 dB SPL) and at 1.4 kHz for the 3-T imager (131 dB SPL). The frequency content and timing of the most intense noise components indicated that the noise was primarily attributable to the readout gradients in the imaging pulse sequence. The noise persisted above background levels for 300-500 ms after gradient activity ceased, indicating that resonating structures in the imager or noise reverberating in the imager room were also factors. The gradient noise waveform was highly repeatable. In addition, the coolant pump for the imager's permanent magnet and the room air-handling system were sources of ongoing noise lower in both level and frequency than gradient coil noise. Knowledge of the sources and characteristics of the noise enabled the examination of general approaches to noise control that could be applied to reduce the unwanted noise during fMRI sessions. (+info
Spectral integration in the inferior colliculus of the mustached bat.
Acoustic behaviors including orientation and social communication depend on neural integration of information across the sound spectrum. In many species, spectral integration is performed by combination-sensitive neurons, responding best when distinct spectral elements in sounds are combined. These are generally considered a feature of information processing in the auditory forebrain. In the mustached bat's inferior colliculus (IC), they are common in frequency representations associated with sonar signals but have not been reported elsewhere in this bat's IC or the IC of other species. We examined the presence of combination-sensitive neurons in frequency representations of the mustached bat's IC not associated with biosonar. Seventy-five single-unit responses were recorded with the best frequencies in 10-23 or 32-47 kHz bands. Twenty-six displayed single excitatory tuning curves in one band with no additional responsiveness to a second signal in another band. The remaining 49 responded to sounds in both 10-23 and 32-47 kHz bands, but response types varied. Sounds in the higher band were usually excitatory, whereas sounds in the lower band either facilitated or inhibited responses to the higher frequency signal. Interactions were usually strongest when the higher and lower frequency stimuli were presented simultaneously, but the strength of interactions varied. Over one-third of the neurons formed a distinct subset; they responded most sensitively to bandpass noise, and all were combination sensitive. We suggest that these combination-sensitive interactions are activated by elements of mustached bat social vocalizations. If so, neuronal integration characterizing analysis of social vocalizations in many species occurs in the IC. (+info
When a "wheeze" is not a wheeze: acoustic analysis of breath sounds in infants.
Epidemiological studies indicate that the prevalence of "wheeze" is very high in early childhood. However, it is clear that parents and clinicians frequently use the term "wheeze" for a range of audible respiratory noises. The commonest audible sounds originating from the lower airways in infancy are ruttles, which differ from classical wheeze in that the sound is much lower in pitch, with a continuous rattling quality and lacking any musical features. The aim of this study was to clearly differentiate wheeze and ruttles objectively using acoustic analysis. Lung sounds were recorded in 15 infants, seven with wheeze and eight with ruttles, using a small sensitive piezoelectric accelerometer, and information relating to the respiratory cycle was obtained using inductive plethysmography. The acoustic signals were analysed using a fast fourier transformation technique (Respiratory Acoustics Laboratory Environment programme). The acoustic properties of the two noises were shown to be quite distinct, the classical wheeze being characterized by a sinusoidal waveform with one or more distinct peaks in the power spectrum display; the ruttle is represented by an irregular nonsinusoidal waveform with diffuse peaks in the power spectrum and with increased sound intensity at a frequency of <600 Hz. It is important for clinicians and epidemiologists to recognize that there are distinct types of audible respiratory noise in early life with characteristic acoustic properties. (+info
Isolating the auditory system from acoustic noise during functional magnetic resonance imaging: examination of noise conduction through the ear canal, head, and body.
Approaches were examined for reducing acoustic noise levels heard by subjects during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a technique for localizing brain activation in humans. Specifically, it was examined whether a device for isolating the head and ear canal from sound (a "helmet") could add to the isolation provided by conventional hearing protection devices (i.e., earmuffs and earplugs). Both subjective attenuation (the difference in hearing threshold with versus without isolation devices in place) and objective attenuation (difference in ear-canal sound pressure) were measured. In the frequency range of the most intense fMRI noise (1-1.4 kHz), a helmet, earmuffs, and earplugs used together attenuated perceived sound by 55-63 dB, whereas the attenuation provided by the conventional devices alone was substantially less: 30-37 dB for earmuffs, 25-28 dB for earplugs, and 39-41 dB for earmuffs and earplugs used together. The data enabled the clarification of the relative importance of ear canal, head, and body conduction routes to the cochlea under different conditions: At low frequencies (< or =500 Hz), the ear canal was the dominant route of sound conduction to the cochlea for all of the device combinations considered. At higher frequencies (>500 Hz), the ear canal was the dominant route when either earmuffs or earplugs were worn. However, the dominant route of sound conduction was through the head when both earmuffs and earplugs were worn, through both ear canal and body when a helmet and earmuffs were worn, and through the body when a helmet, earmuffs, and earplugs were worn. It is estimated that a helmet, earmuffs, and earplugs together will reduce the most intense fMRI noise levels experienced by a subject to 60-65 dB SPL. Even greater reductions in noise should be achievable by isolating the body from the surrounding noise field. (+info
Flextube reflectometry for localization of upper airway narrowing--a preliminary study in models and awake subjects.
The aim of this study was to examine an acoustic reflection method using a flexible tube for identifying the obstructive site of the upper airway in snorers and patients with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). As a preliminary study it was performed n models and subjects in the awake state. Flextube narrowing was produced in a model of the nose and pharynx and three blinded observers assessed the obstructive level. The correlation between pharyngeal narrowing assessed by endoscopy and by acoustic measurement during Muller manoeuvres was also examined in 10 OSA patients and 11 healthy non-snoring, adults. Three blinded observers dentified the level of 176 of 180 random cases of flextube narrowing in a polycarbonate model correctly The level of narrowing was always correctly evaluated within 1.9 mm. Pharyngeal area decrease was measured by the flextube method during the Muller manoeuvre but it was not closely related to the findings by endoscopy. In conclusion the flextube reflectometry method was able to demonstrate narrowng in a model of the nose and pharynx in a precise way. Narrowing was also observed during Muller manoeuvres. Flextube reflectometry may be a promising method to detect upper airway narrowing but further evaluation during sleep is required. (+info
Flextube reflectometry for determination of sites of upper airway narrowing in sleeping obstructive sleep apnoea patients.
The aim of this study was to examine a new technique based on sound reflections in a flexible tube for identifying obstructive sites of the upper airway during sleep. There was no significant difference between two nights in seven obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) patients regarding the level distribution of pharyngeal narrowings, when the pharynx was divided into two segments (retropalatal and retrolingual). We also compared the level distribution determined by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with the level distribution found by flextube reflectometry in seven OSA patients. There was no significant difference between flextube and MRI level distributions during obstructive events, but due to few subjects the power of the test was limited. We found a statistically significant correlation between the number of flextube narrowings per hour of sleep and the number of obstructive apnoeas and hypopnoeas per hour of sleep determined by polysomnography (PSG) in 21 subjects (Spearman's correlation coefficient r = 0.79, P < 0.001). In conclusion, the flextube reflectometry system seems to be useful for level diagnosis in OSA before and after treatment. (+info