The influence of actions on auditory perception: cognitive and neural mechanisms

Cao, Liyu (2016) The influence of actions on auditory perception: cognitive and neural mechanisms. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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It is well known that self-generated stimuli are processed differently from externally generated stimuli. For example, many people have noticed since childhood that it is very difficult to make a self-tickling. In the auditory domain, self-generated sounds elicit smaller brain responses as compared to externally generated sounds, known as the sensory attenuation (SA) effect. SA is manifested in reduced amplitudes of evoked responses as measured through MEEG, decreased firing rates of neurons and a lower level of perceived loudness for self-generated sounds.

The predominant explanation for SA is based on the idea that self-generated stimuli are predicted (e.g., the forward model account). It is the nature of their predictability that is crucial for SA. On the contrary, the sensory gating account emphasizes a general suppressive effect of actions on sensory processing, regardless of the predictability of the stimuli. Both accounts have received empirical support, which suggests that both mechanisms may exist.

In chapter 2, three behavioural studies concerning the influence of motor activation on auditory perception were presented. Study 1 compared the effect of SA and attention in an auditory detection task and showed that SA was present even when substantial attention was paid to unpredictable stimuli. Study 2 compared the loudness perception of tones generated by others between Chinese and British participants. Compared to externally generated tones, a decrease in perceived loudness for others generated tones was found among Chinese but not among the British. In study 3, partial evidence was found that even when reading words that are related to action, auditory detection performance was impaired.

In chapter 3, the classic SA effect of M100 suppression was replicated with MEG in study 4. With time-frequency analysis, a potential neural information processing sequence was found in auditory cortex. Prior to the onset of self-generated tones, there was an increase of oscillatory power in the alpha band. After the stimulus onset, reduced gamma power and alpha/beta phase locking were found. The three temporally segregated oscillatory events correlated with each other and with SA effect, which may be the underlying neural implementation of SA.

In chapter 4, a TMS-MEG study was presented investigating the role of the cerebellum in adapting to delayed presentation of self-generated tones (study 5). It demonstrated that in sham stimulation condition, the brain can adapt to the delay (about 100 ms) within 300 trials of learning by showing a significant increase of SA effect in the suppression of M100, but not M200 component. Whereas after stimulating the cerebellum with a suppressive TMS protocol, the adaptation in M100 suppression disappeared and the pattern of M200 suppression reversed to M200 enhancement.

These data support the idea that the suppressive effect of actions on auditory processing is a consequence of both motor driven sensory predictions and general sensory gating. The results also demonstrate the importance of neural oscillations in implementing SA effect and the critical role of the cerebellum in learning sensory predictions under sensory perturbation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Study 1 was published in Plos One (2015), 10(8), e0136585; Study 2 was published in Frontiers in Psychology (2015), 6, 1865; Study 3 was published in Experimental Brain Research (2016), 234(10), 3049-3057; Study 4 was partly published in NeuroImage (2016), doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.11.001.
Keywords: sensory attenuation, auditory perception, efference copy, neural oscillations, cerebellum.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Supervisor's Name: Gross, Professor Joachim
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: Mr Liyu Cao
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7783
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2016 13:41
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2017 07:50
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