Predicting dynamic range and intensity discrimination for electrical pulse-train stimuli using a stochastic auditory nerve model: the effects of stimulus noise.
This work investigates dynamic range and intensity discrimination for electrical pulse-train stimuli that are modulated by noise using a stochastic auditory nerve model. Based on a hypothesized monotonic relationship between loudness and the number of spikes elicited by a stimulus, theoretical prediction of the uncomfortable level has previously been determined by comparing spike counts to a fixed threshold, Nucl. However, no specific rule for determining Nucl has been suggested. Our work determines the uncomfortable level based on the excitation pattern of the neural response in a normal ear. The number of fibers corresponding to the portion of the basilar membrane driven by a stimulus at an uncomfortable level in a normal ear is related to Nucl at an uncomfortable level of the electrical stimulus. Intensity discrimination limens are predicted using signal detection theory via the probability mass function of the neural response and via experimental simulations. The results show that the uncomfortable level for pulse-train stimuli increases slightly as noise level increases. Combining this with our previous threshold predictions, we hypothesize that the dynamic range for noise-modulated pulse-train stimuli should increase with additive noise. However, since our predictions indicate that intensity discrimination under noise degrades, overall intensity coding performance may not improve significantly.
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