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  • When "Bouba" equals "Kiki": Cultural commonalities and cultural differences in sound-shape correspondences.

    20 March 2018

    It has been suggested that the Bouba/Kiki effect, in which meaningless speech sounds are systematically mapped onto rounded or angular shapes, reflects a universal crossmodal correspondence between audition and vision. Here, radial frequency (RF) patterns were adapted in order to compare the Bouba/Kiki effect in Eastern and Western participants demonstrating different perceptual styles. Three attributes of the RF patterns were manipulated: The frequency, amplitude, and spikiness of the sinusoidal modulations along the circumference of a circle. By testing participants in the US and Taiwan, both cultural commonalities and differences in sound-shape correspondence were revealed. RF patterns were more likely to be matched with "Kiki" than with "Bouba" when the frequency, amplitude, and spikiness increased. The responses from both groups of participants had a similar weighting on frequency; nevertheless, the North Americans had a higher weighting on amplitude, but a lower weighting on spikiness, than their Taiwanese counterparts. These novel results regarding cultural differences suggest that the Bouba/Kiki effect is partly tuned by differing perceptual experience. In addition, using the RF patterns in the Bouba/Kiki effect provides a "mid-level" linkage between visual and auditory processing, and a future understanding of sound-shape correspondences based on the mechanism of visual pattern processing.

  • Virtual Electrode Recording Tool for EXtracellular potentials (VERTEX): comparing multi-electrode recordings from simulated and biological mammalian cortical tissue.

    12 December 2017

    Local field potentials (LFPs) sampled with extracellular electrodes are frequently used as a measure of population neuronal activity. However, relating such measurements to underlying neuronal behaviour and connectivity is non-trivial. To help study this link, we developed the Virtual Electrode Recording Tool for EXtracellular potentials (VERTEX). We first identified a reduced neuron model that retained the spatial and frequency filtering characteristics of extracellular potentials from neocortical neurons. We then developed VERTEX as an easy-to-use Matlab tool for simulating LFPs from large populations (>100,000 neurons). A VERTEX-based simulation successfully reproduced features of the LFPs from an in vitro multi-electrode array recording of macaque neocortical tissue. Our model, with virtual electrodes placed anywhere in 3D, allows direct comparisons with the in vitro recording setup. We envisage that VERTEX will stimulate experimentalists, clinicians, and computational neuroscientists to use models to understand the mechanisms underlying measured brain dynamics in health and disease.

  • Dual γ rhythm generators control interlaminar synchrony in auditory cortex.

    20 March 2018

    Rhythmic activity in populations of cortical neurons accompanies, and may underlie, many aspects of primary sensory processing and short-term memory. Activity in the gamma band (30 Hz up to >100 Hz) is associated with such cognitive tasks and is thought to provide a substrate for temporal coupling of spatially separate regions of the brain. However, such coupling requires close matching of frequencies in co-active areas, and because the nominal gamma band is so spectrally broad, it may not constitute a single underlying process. Here we show that, for inhibition-based gamma rhythms in vitro in rat neocortical slices, mechanistically distinct local circuit generators exist in different laminae of rat primary auditory cortex. A persistent, 30-45 Hz, gap-junction-dependent gamma rhythm dominates rhythmic activity in supragranular layers 2/3, whereas a tonic depolarization-dependent, 50-80 Hz, pyramidal/interneuron gamma rhythm is expressed in granular layer 4 with strong glutamatergic excitation. As a consequence, altering the degree of excitation of the auditory cortex causes bifurcation in the gamma frequency spectrum and can effectively switch temporal control of layer 5 from supragranular to granular layers. Computational modeling predicts the pattern of interlaminar connections may help to stabilize this bifurcation. The data suggest that different strategies are used by primary auditory cortex to represent weak and strong inputs, with principal cell firing rate becoming increasingly important as excitation strength increases.

  • Rates and rhythms: a synergistic view of frequency and temporal coding in neuronal networks.

    19 February 2018

    In the CNS, activity of individual neurons has a small but quantifiable relationship to sensory representations and motor outputs. Coactivation of a few 10s to 100s of neurons can code sensory inputs and behavioral task performance within psychophysical limits. However, in a sea of sensory inputs and demand for complex motor outputs how is the activity of such small subpopulations of neurons organized? Two theories dominate in this respect: increases in spike rate (rate coding) and sharpening of the coincidence of spiking in active neurons (temporal coding). Both have computational advantages and are far from mutually exclusive. Here, we review evidence for a bias in neuronal circuits toward temporal coding and the coexistence of rate and temporal coding during population rhythm generation. The coincident expression of multiple types of gamma rhythm in sensory cortex suggests a mechanistic substrate for combining rate and temporal codes on the basis of stimulus strength.

  • Sleep Deprivation and Advice Taking.

    26 February 2018

    Judgements and decisions in many political, economic or medical contexts are often made while sleep deprived. Furthermore, in such contexts individuals are required to integrate information provided by - more or less qualified - advisors. We asked if sleep deprivation affects advice taking. We conducted a 2 (sleep deprivation: yes vs. no) ×2 (competency of advisor: medium vs. high) experimental study to examine the effects of sleep deprivation on advice taking in an estimation task. We compared participants with one night of total sleep deprivation to participants with a night of regular sleep. Competency of advisor was manipulated within subjects. We found that sleep deprived participants show increased advice taking. An interaction of condition and competency of advisor and further post-hoc analyses revealed that this effect was more pronounced for the medium competency advisor compared to the high competency advisor. Furthermore, sleep deprived participants benefited more from an advisor of high competency in terms of stronger improvement in judgmental accuracy than well-rested participants.

  • Cross-cultural differences in crossmodal correspondences between basic tastes and visual features.

    12 March 2018

    We report a cross-cultural study designed to investigate crossmodal correspondences between a variety of visual features (11 colors, 15 shapes, and 2 textures) and the five basic taste terms (bitter, salty, sour, sweet, and umami). A total of 452 participants from China, India, Malaysia, and the USA viewed color patches, shapes, and textures online and had to choose the taste term that best matched the image and then rate their confidence in their choice. Across the four groups of participants, the results revealed a number of crossmodal correspondences between certain colors/shapes and bitter, sour, and sweet tastes. Crossmodal correspondences were also documented between the color white and smooth/rough textures on the one hand and the salt taste on the other. Cross-cultural differences were observed in the correspondences between certain colors, shapes, and one of the textures and the taste terms. The taste-patterns shown by the participants from the four countries tested in the present study are quite different from one another, and these differences cannot easily be attributed merely to whether a country is Eastern or Western. These findings therefore highlight the impact of cultural background on crossmodal correspondences. As such, they raise a number of interesting questions regarding the neural mechanisms underlying crossmodal correspondences.

  • Crossmodal effect of music and odor pleasantness on olfactory quality perception.

    14 March 2018

    Previous research has demonstrated that ratings of the perceived pleasantness and quality of odors can be modulated by auditory stimuli presented at around the same time. Here, we extend these results by assessing whether the hedonic congruence between odor and sound stimuli can modulate the perception of odor intensity, pleasantness, and quality in untrained participants. Unexpectedly, our results reveal that broadband white noise, which was rated as unpleasant in a follow-up experiment, actually had a more pronounced effect on participants' odor ratings than either the consonant or dissonant musical selections. In particular, participants rated the six smells used as being less pleasant and less sweet when they happened to be listening to white noise, as compared to any one of the other music conditions. What is more, these results also add evidence to support the existence of a close relationship between an odor's hedonic character and the perception of odor quality. So, for example, independent of the sound condition, pleasant odors were rated as sweeter, less dry, and brighter than the unpleasant odors. These results are discussed in terms of their implications for the understanding of crossmodal correspondences between olfactory and auditory stimuli.

  • Audiovisual temporal integration for complex speech, object-action, animal call, and musical stimuli

    9 February 2018

    © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010. All rights reserved. Understanding the mechanisms underlying the human perception of synchrony for simple and complex audiovisual stimuli represents an important, but as yet unresolved, issue in the field of cognitive science. Many questions regarding the processes involved in the temporal integration of auditory and visual stimuli that give rise to a synchronous audiovisual experience of everyday events are still open for research. This chapter outlines what is currently known about the mechanisms of audiovisual temporal perception and reviews the results of a series of studies of temporal perception using complex audiovisual stimuli. To date, two characteristics of the audiovisual temporal window of integration have been s hown to be relatively consistent across the majority of studies: (1) It has a width on the order of several hundred milliseconds and (2) it is asymmetrical, being larger when the visual-stimulus leads than when it lags. We provide an overview of research demonstrating that the temporal window of audiovisual integration for complex stimuli is modulated by the type, complexity, and properties of the particular experimental stimuli used, the familiarity of the observer with the stimuli presented, the degree of unity of the auditory- and visual-stimulus streams (for the case of speech stimuli), and the orientation of the visual stimulus (again for the case of speech stimuli).