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pitch neurons

Two years ago, on October 21-2000, I had replied to a question from Suresh
Krishna as follows:

"martin braun wrote:

...the extracted f0-pitch is coded at its frequency place by discharge

is there a peer-reviewed reference for this statement?"

Very good question. A peer-reviewed report on this issue may still be
pending. But there is a conference report from 1996, which appeared as a
book chapter in 1997:

Biebel, U.W., Langner, G., 1997. Evidence for "pitch neurons" in the
auditory midbrain of chinchillas. In: Syka, J. (Ed.), Acoustic Signal
Processing in the Central Auditory System. Plenum Press, New York, pp.

We can now add that the "peer-reviewed reference for this statement" is no
longer pending. It appeared in July this year:

Ulrich W. Biebel and Gerald Langner (2002). Evidence for interactions across
frequency channels in the inferior colliculus of awake chinchilla. Hear Res
169, 151-168.

The authors have confirmed and largely extended the evidence from the 1996
conference report. However, they do not use the term "pitch neuron" in this
paper. Perhaps they plan to do this in a new study with stimuli consisting
of harmonic complex tones. They already announced preliminary data of such
experiments in the present paper (p. 164):

"Preliminary data carried out with harmonic complexes lacking f0 showed that
neurons in the ICC indeed respond to spectrally broad periodic signals as
well as to HC-SAM (data not shown). Responses were restricted to complexes
having the period of the neuron's BF and lying spectrally in a certain
'integration range' of the neuron." [HC-SAM: amplitude modulated signal with
high carrier, far above the neuron's BF]


Martin Braun
Neuroscience of Music
S-671 95 Klässbol
e-mail: nombraun@post.netlink.se
web site: http://hem.netlink.se/~sbe29751/home.htm