April 14, 2021

Envelope reconstruction of speech and music highlights unique tracking of speech at low frequencies

The human brain tracks amplitude fluctuations of both speech and music, which reflects acoustic processing in addition to the processing of higher-order features and one’s cognitive state. Comparing neural tracking of speech and music envelopes can elucidate stimulus-general mechanisms, but direct comparisons are confounded by differences in their envelope spectra. Here, we use a novel method of frequency-constrained reconstruction of stimulus envelopes using EEG recorded during passive listening. We expected to see music reconstruction match speech in a narrow range of frequencies, but instead we found that speech was reconstructed better than music for all frequencies we examined. Additionally, speech envelope tracking at low frequencies, below 1 Hz, was uniquely associated with increased weighting over parietal channels. Our results highlight the importance of low-frequency speech tracking and its origin from speech-specific processing in the brain.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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