Objective: The aim of this study was to design a novel experimental approach to investigate the morphological characteristics of auditory cortical responses elicited by rapidly changing synthesized speech sounds. Methods: Six sound-evoked magnetoencephalographic (MEG) responses were measured to a synthesized train of speech sounds using the vowels /e/ and /u/ in 17 normal hearing young adults. Responses were measured to: (i) the onset of the speech train, (ii) an F0 increment; (iii) an F0 decrement; (iv) an F2 decrement; (v) an F2 increment; and (vi) the offset of the speech train using short (jittered around 135. ms) and long (1500. ms) stimulus onset asynchronies (SOAs). The least squares (LS) deconvolution technique was used to disentangle the overlapping MEG responses in the short SOA condition only. Results: Comparison between the morphology of the recovered cortical responses in the short and long SOAs conditions showed high similarity, suggesting that the LS deconvolution technique was successful in disentangling the MEG waveforms. Waveform latencies and amplitudes were different for the two SOAs conditions and were influenced by the spectro-temporal properties of the sound sequence. The magnetic acoustic change complex (mACC) for the short SOA condition showed significantly lower amplitudes and shorter latencies compared to the long SOA condition. The F0 transition showed a larger reduction in amplitude from long to short SOA compared to the F2 transition. Lateralization of the cortical responses were observed under some stimulus conditions and appeared to be associated with the spectro-temporal properties of the acoustic stimulus. Conclusions: The LS deconvolution technique provides a new tool to study the properties of the auditory cortical response to rapidly changing sound stimuli. The presence of the cortical auditory evoked responses for rapid transition of synthesized speech stimuli suggests that the temporal code is preserved at the level of the auditory cortex. Further, the reduced amplitudes and shorter latencies might reflect intrinsic properties of the cortical neurons to rapidly presented sounds. Significance: This is the first demonstration of the separation of overlapping cortical responses to rapidly changing speech sounds and offers a potential new biomarker of discrimination of rapid transition of sound.
- least-squares deconvolution
- overlapping responses
- rapid acoustic change complex