MEG, PSYCHOPHYSICAL AND COMPUTATIONAL STUDIES OF LOUDNESS, TIMBRE, AND AUDIOVISUAL INTEGRATION
Jenkins III, Julian
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Natural scenes and ecological signals are inherently complex and understanding of their perception and processing is incomplete. For example, a speech signal contains not only information at various frequencies, but is also not static; the signal is concurrently modulated temporally. In addition, an auditory signal may be paired with additional sensory information, as in the case of audiovisual speech. In order to make sense of the signal, a human observer must process the information provided by low-level sensory systems and integrate it across sensory modalities and with cognitive information (e.g., object identification information, phonetic information). The observer must then create functional relationships between the signals encountered to form a coherent percept. The neuronal and cognitive mechanisms underlying this integration can be quantified in several ways: by taking physiological measurements, assessing behavioral output for a given task and modeling signal relationships. While ecological tokens are complex in a way that exceeds our current understanding, progress can be made by utilizing synthetic signals that encompass specific essential features of ecological signals. The experiments presented here cover five aspects of complex signal processing using approximations of ecological signals : (i) auditory integration of complex tones comprised of different frequencies and component power levels; (ii) audiovisual integration approximating that of human speech; (iii) behavioral measurement of signal discrimination; (iv) signal classification via simple computational analyses and (v) neuronal processing of synthesized auditory signals approximating speech tokens. To investigate neuronal processing, magnetoencephalography (MEG) is employed to assess cortical processing non-invasively. Behavioral measures are employed to evaluate observer acuity in signal discrimination and to test the limits of perceptual resolution. Computational methods are used to examine the relationships in perceptual space and physiological processing between synthetic auditory signals, using features of the signals themselves as well as biologically-motivated models of auditory representation. Together, the various methodologies and experimental paradigms advance the understanding of ecological signal analytics concerning the complex interactions in ecological signal structure.