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You Think it's Hi-fi – Yet Your Brain Might Spot the Difference: An EEG Study on Subconscious Processing of Noisy Audio Signals
Citation key antons2010a
Author Antons, Jan-Niklas and Porbadnigk, Anne K. and Schleicher, Robert and Blankertz, Benjamin and Möller, Sebastian and Curio, Gabriel
Title of Book Proceedings of KogWis 2010 : 10th Biannual Meeting of the German Society for Cognitive Science
Pages 81
Year 2010
ISBN 978-3-86956-087-8
ISSN 2190-4545
Location Potsdam, Germany
Address Potsdam, Germany
Volume 2
Month aug
Editor Haack, Johannes and Wiese, Heike and Abraham, Andreas and Chiarcos, Christian
Publisher Universitätsverlag Potsdam
Series Potsdam Cognitive Science Series
How Published Abstract
Organization Cognitive Sciences Area of Excellence, University of Potsdam
Abstract In telecommunication research, subjective listening tests are commonly used to measure the perceived quality of speech stimuli. Disadvantageously, these approaches do not provide information about possible subconscious processes which could prime for slowly growing dissatisfaction with an audio transmission. Here, we propose to analyse brain EEG activations related to stimulus quality. This objective information could be informative particularly for minor degradations of auditory hi-fi stimuli where reports of quality differences are notoriously subjective and variable. Accordingly, we ran an EEG study (N=11) using an auditory oddball paradigm: subjects pressed a button whenever they detected a noise disturbance in a set of naturally spoken vowel /a/ stimuli which either were left unmodified (non-targets) or were modified by adding signal-correlated noise at four intensity levels (targets). Most remarkably, in five subjects we found a striking similarity in the averaged EEG patterns elicited by marginally noisy stimuli (mean noise perception rate 43%) which were either missed (no button press) or consciously recognized (button press). Consequently, we trained a classifier based on shrinkage LDA to distinguish between single-trial EEG patterns of hits (detected targets) and nontargets for a given subject. Notably, these classifiers were found capable to distinguish also between misses and non-targets in the same subject - two events which are seemingly similar at the behavioral level (i.e., no button press). Thus, EEG-based classifiers are able to identify instances where an audio stimulus is labeled 'hi-fi' consciously - neurally, however, its actual noise contamination is nonetheless detected, possibly affecting the long-term contentment with the transmission quality.
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