January 23, 2021

Test-retest reliability of neural entrainment in the human auditory system

Auditory stimuli are often rhythmic in nature. Brain activity synchronizes with auditory rhythms via neural entrainment, and entrainment seems to be beneficial for auditory perception. However, it is not clear to what extent neural entrainment in the auditory system is reliable over time – a necessary prerequisite for targeted intervention. The current study aimed to establish the reliability of neural entrainment over time and to predict individual differences in auditory perception from associated neural activity. Across two different sessions, human listeners detected silent gaps presented at different phase locations of a 2-Hz frequency modulated (FM) noise while EEG activity was recorded. As expected, neural activity was entrained by the 2-Hz FM noise. Moreover, gap detection was sinusoidally modulated by the phase of the 2-Hz FM into which the gap fell. Critically, both the strength of neural entrainment as well as the modulation of performance by the stimulus rhythm were highly reliable over sessions. Moreover, gap detection was predictable from pre-gap neural 2-Hz phase. Going beyond previous work, we found that stimulus-driven behavioral modulation was better predicted by the interaction between delta and alpha phase than by delta or alpha phase alone, both within and across sessions. Taken together, our results demonstrate that neural entrainment in the auditory system and the resulting behavioral modulation are reliable over time. In addition, both entrained delta and non-entrained alpha oscillatory phase contribute to near-threshold stimulus perception.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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