Digital earplug for brain plasticity research
Keywords:Audio acoustics, Computer crime, Digital signal processors, Hearing aids, Microphones, Patient monitoring, Plasticity, Plasticity testing, Signal processing, Signal receivers, Ambient noise, Auditory cortex, Brain plasticity, Digital signal processing devices, Hearing aid, Hearing protectors, Neuroimaging techniques, Non-linear, Other applications, Sound perception, Wide frequency range
AbstractThis paper will present the feasibility of utilizing a miniaturized, real-time, in-ear, digital signal processing devices to investigate experience-dependent brain plasticity in the humans. An important component of this trial is the use of a recently developed digital hearing protector (from Sonomax, Montreal, QC) made with a custom earpiece that is instantly fitted to the user's ear, tested for attenuation and then equipped with a miniaturized set of microphone, receiver and Digital Signal Processor. The DSP is a versatile audio platform, originally designed for hearing aid applications, but that has also been successfully programmed for several other applications like a non-linear earplug (offering more attenuation when the ambient noise is higher) and as a musician's earplug (offering a constant attenuation over a wide frequency range together with a loudness correction). The central idea of the current study is to use such digital earplugs to change a person's sound perception, in real-time, in- and outside of the laboratory. Various time and frequency manipulations will be performed on the signal pick-up by the microphone and transmitted to the subject's ear by the receiver, while monitoring the brain plasticity with neuroimaging techniques. Preliminary results using a notch filter demonstrate tonotopic reorganization following sensory modification in the human auditory cortex.
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