The effects of background noise on dichotic listening to consonant-vowel syllables: An fMRI study

Research Area: Research Year: 2010
Type of Publication: Article Keywords: Dichotic listening; Speech sound perception; Noise perception; CV syllables; Lateralisation; fMRI
Authors: Dos Santos Sequeira, S; Specht, Karsten; Moosmann, Matthias; Westerhausen, Rene; Hugdahl, Kenneth
The present fMRI study attempts to identify brain areas that may underlie the effect of different background noises on functional brain asymmetry in a dichotic listening task. Previous studies have shown that the prominent right ear advantage in dichotic listening to consonant-vowel syllables is affected by background noise. To explore the underlying neuronal processes, haemodynamic brain responses using fMRI were recorded while participants performed the dichotic listening task in two different noisy backgrounds (conversational "babble" and traffic noise). The behavioural results showed a reduction of the right ear advantage in the background noise conditions, especially in the traffic noise condition. The behavioural results are discussed in terms of alertness-attentional mechanisms. The effects of background noise on brain activation involved significant activations in a speech-processing network. Specifically the changes in activations in the peri-Sylvian region of the superior temporal gyrus and in the temporo-parietal junction part in the left hemisphere, as well as in the superior temporal gyrus/sulcus area in the right hemisphere may mirror the effects of noise on behavioural performance. The effects of noise on brain activation are discussed with regard to pre-activation mechanisms.
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