Archives of Acoustics, 45, 2, pp. 313–319, 2020

Brain’s Frequency Following Responses to Low-Frequency and Infrasound

Universidad de Las Américas

University College London
United Kingdom

Complaints and awareness about environmental low-frequency (LF) noise and infrasound (IS) have increased in recent years, but knowledge about perceptual mechanisms is limited. To evaluate the use of the brain’s frequency-following response (FFR) as an objective correlate of individual sensitivity to IS and LF, we recorded the FFR to monaurally presented IS (11 Hz) and LF (38 Hz) tones over a 30-phon range for 11 subjects. It was found that 11-Hz FFRs were often significant already at ~0 phon, steeply grew to 20 phon, and saturated above. In contrast, the 38-Hz FFR growth was relatively shallow and continued to 60 phon. Furthermore, at the same loudness level (30 phon), the 11-Hz FFR strength was significantly larger (4.5 dB) than for 38 Hz, possibly reflecting a higher phase synchronization across the auditory pathway. Overall, unexpected inter-individual variability as well as qualitative differences between the measured FFR growth functions and typical loudness growth make interpretation of the FFR as objective correlate of IS and LF sensitivity difficult.
Keywords: low-frequency hearing; frequency-following response; infrasound; auditory brain
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DOI: 10.24425/aoa.2020.133151