Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Auditory sustained field responses to periodic noise

Sumru Keceli12*, Koji Inui12, Hidehiko Okamoto12, Naofumi Otsuru1 and Ryusuke Kakigi12

Author affiliations

1 Department of Integrative Physiology, National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Nishigohnaka 38, Myodaiji, Okazaki City, 444-8585, Japan

2 Department of Physiological Sciences, School of Life Sciences, The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, Hayama, Kanagawa, Japan

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2012, 13:7  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-13-7

Published: 6 January 2012



Auditory sustained responses have been recently suggested to reflect neural processing of speech sounds in the auditory cortex. As periodic fluctuations below the pitch range are important for speech perception, it is necessary to investigate how low frequency periodic sounds are processed in the human auditory cortex. Auditory sustained responses have been shown to be sensitive to temporal regularity but the relationship between the amplitudes of auditory evoked sustained responses and the repetitive rates of auditory inputs remains elusive. As the temporal and spectral features of sounds enhance different components of sustained responses, previous studies with click trains and vowel stimuli presented diverging results. In order to investigate the effect of repetition rate on cortical responses, we analyzed the auditory sustained fields evoked by periodic and aperiodic noises using magnetoencephalography.


Sustained fields were elicited by white noise and repeating frozen noise stimuli with repetition rates of 5-, 10-, 50-, 200- and 500 Hz. The sustained field amplitudes were significantly larger for all the periodic stimuli than for white noise. Although the sustained field amplitudes showed a rising and falling pattern within the repetition rate range, the response amplitudes to 5 Hz repetition rate were significantly larger than to 500 Hz.


The enhanced sustained field responses to periodic noises show that cortical sensitivity to periodic sounds is maintained for a wide range of repetition rates. Persistence of periodicity sensitivity below the pitch range suggests that in addition to processing the fundamental frequency of voice, sustained field generators can also resolve low frequency temporal modulations in speech envelope.