Accurate representation of the dynamic aspects of sound in the auditory nervous system are crucial in understanding speech, enjoying music, being able to localize a sound source, and make it possible to communicate in noisy environments. Stationary sounds are represented in the auditory system in a way that onsets and offsets produce more activity than the parts in between. This is called perstimulatory adaptation of firing rate. The mechanisms underlying it also play a role in the masking effects of other sounds on the ones of interest, and determine our sensitivity to periodically time varying sounds. Stimulus-specific adaptation also may be largely determined by this mechanism. The first five chapters in the book describe the role of adaptation mechanisms from auditory nerve to auditory cortex. Chapter 6 describes a simple phenomenological model that links together perstimulatory adaptation and recovery therefrom with forward masking and temporal modulation transfer functions. Neural synchronization and its role in brain rhythms and perception are elucidated. Based on this, the role of temporal processing in periodicity pitch, sound localization, stream segregation and scene analysis are reviewed. Temporal processing ability of the nervous system is affected by maturation as well as aging, and on top of that by hearing loss. Less clear is the role of temporal processing deficits in dyslexia, specific language impairment and auditory processing disorders, potentially because of the confounding role of maturation and aging. Various neurological disorders such as auditory neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, autism and epilepsy present itself with temporal processing deficits. These deficits are often multimodal in nature and this is reflected on in the final chapter.
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