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Extracting human cortical responses to sound onsets and acoustic feature changes in real music, and their relation to event rate

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Evoked cortical responses (ERs) have mainly been studied in controlled experiments using simplified stimuli. Though, an outstanding question is how the human cortex responds to the complex stimuli encountered in realistic situations. Few electroencephalography (EEG) studies have used Music Information Retrieval (MIR) tools to extract cortical P1/N1/P2 to acoustical changes in real music. However, less than ten events per music piece could be detected leading to ERs due to limitations in automatic detection of sound onsets. Also, the factors influencing a successful extraction of the ERs have not been identified. Finally, previous studies did not localize the sources of the cortical generators. This study is based on an EEG/MEG dataset from 48 healthy normal hearing participants listening to three real music pieces. Acoustic features were computed from the audio signal of the music with the MIR Toolbox. To overcome limits in automatic methods, sound onsets were also manually detected. The chance of obtaining detectable ERs based on ten randomly picked onset points was less than 1:10,000. For the first time, we show that naturalistic P1/N1/P2 ERs can be reliably measured across 100 manually identified sound onsets, substantially improving the signal-to-noise level compared to <10 trials. More ERs were measurable in musical sections with slow event rates (0.2 Hz-2.5 Hz) than with fast event rates (>2.5 Hz). Furthermore, during monophonic sections of the music only P1/P2 were measurable, and during polyphonic sections only N1. Finally, MEG source analysis revealed that naturalistic P2 is located in core areas of the auditory cortex.
Original languageEnglish
Article number147248
JournalBrain Research
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021

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