Measuring Mismatch Negativity Responses to Gaps in Noise for a Better Understanding of Tinnitus

Title: Measuring Mismatch Negativity Responses to Gaps in Noise for a Better Understanding of Tinnitus
Authors: Duda, Victoria
Date: 2018-10-02
Abstract: Hearing in noise is facilitated by the auditory system’s ability to separate sound into small auditory segments. Separation of sound is achieved using an auditory mechanism called temporal resolution that codes for small silent gaps in an acoustic stimulus. This thesis proposes a new method for measuring temporal resolution and applied it to a small pilot group of individuals with tinnitus. Previous studies have postulated that tinnitus can “fill” in silent gaps thereby making gap detection more difficult. This was shown in studies using the gap prepulse inhibition acoustic startle where the amplitude of a startle response indicates the subject’s ability to detect a small silent gap. However studies using behavioural gap detection do not show significant differences in people with reported tinnitus. Thus the behavioural evidence does not appear to support the hypothesis that tinnitus can “fill” in silent gaps. In this thesis a new method was proposed for measuring neural gap detection: the mismatch negativity response (MMN). The mismatch negativity responses were compared to behavioural measures of gap detection in thirty-five normal hearing adults: five with reported tinnitus and thirty without tinnitus. They underwent recordings to gapped stimuli ranging from 2- to 40-ms gap durations. The stimuli were either a broadband or narrowband noise presented in the absence or presence of a filler noise. Results of these experiments found the broadband and narrowband noises elicited MMNs to silent gaps. The amplitude of the MMN increased with larger gap durations. When filled, the amplitude of the entire waveform was proportionally reduced for all gap durations. However, for the tinnitus group the filler reduced the largest gap durations elicited MMNs amplitudes disproportionately more than for the smaller gap durations. The high and low filler noise reduced the amplitude of the 40-ms gap MMNs. This was not reflective in the behavioural performance of gap detection as there were no significant group differences. These studies show that neural gap detection can be measured using mismatch negativities. Reduced behavioural gap detection performance is reflected by a smaller amplitude of the MMN for suprathrehold gaps. This was shown in both normal hearing participants with elevated behavioural gap detection thresholds and participants with tinnitus. Therefore, electrophysiological recordings to gaps may provide further information on the underlying mechanisms involved in impaired gap detection that may not be captured by behavioural measures alone.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -