Exposing distinct subcortical components of the auditory brainstem response evoked by continuous naturalistic speech

  1. Melissa J Polonenko
  2. Ross K Maddox  Is a corresponding author
  1. University of Rochester, United States

Abstract

Speech processing is built upon encoding by the auditory nerve and brainstem, yet we know very little about how these processes unfold in specific subcortical structures. These structures are deep and respond quickly, making them difficult to study during ongoing speech. Recent techniques begin to address this problem, but yield temporally broad responses with consequently ambiguous neural origins. Here we describe a method that pairs re-synthesized 'peaky' speech with deconvolution analysis of EEG recordings. We show that in adults with normal hearing, the method quickly yields robust responses whose component waves reflect activity from distinct subcortical structures spanning auditory nerve to rostral brainstem. We further demonstrate the versatility of peaky speech by simultaneously measuring bilateral and ear-specific responses across different frequency bands, and discuss important practical considerations such as talker choice. The peaky speech method holds promise as a tool for investigating speech encoding and processing, and for clinical applications.

Data availability

Python code is available on the lab GitHub account (https://github.com/maddoxlab/peaky-speech). All EEG recordings are posted in the EEG-BIDS format (Pernet et al., 2019) to Dryad (https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.12jm63xwd). Stimulus files necessary to derive the peaky speech responses are deposited in the same Dryad repository.

The following data sets were generated

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Melissa J Polonenko

    Neuroscience, University of Rochester, Rochester, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-1914-6117
  2. Ross K Maddox

    Neuroscience, Biomedical Engineering, University of Rochester, Rochester, United States
    For correspondence
    ross.maddox@rochester.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-2668-0238

Funding

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (R00DC014288)

  • Ross K Maddox

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Human subjects: All subjects gave written informed consent before the experiment began. All experimental procedures were approved by the University of Rochester Research Subjects Review Board. (#1227).

Reviewing Editor

  1. Tobias Reichenbach, Imperial College London, United Kingdom

Publication history

  1. Received: August 21, 2020
  2. Accepted: February 16, 2021
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: February 17, 2021 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: March 10, 2021 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2021, Polonenko & Maddox

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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  1. Melissa J Polonenko
  2. Ross K Maddox
(2021)
Exposing distinct subcortical components of the auditory brainstem response evoked by continuous naturalistic speech
eLife 10:e62329.
https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.62329

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