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Amplitude modulation detection as a function of modulation frequency and stimulus duration: Comparisons between macaques and humans


Previous observations show that humans outperform non-human primates on some temporally-based auditory discrimination tasks, suggesting there are species differences in the proficiency of auditory temporal processing among primates. To further resolve these differences we compared the abilities of rhesus macaques and humans to detect sine-amplitude modulation (AM) of a broad-band noise carrier as a function of both AM frequency (2.5 Hz-2 kHz) and signal duration (50-800 ms), under similar testing conditions. Using a go/no-go AM detection task, we found that macaques were less sensitive than humans at the lower frequencies and shorter durations tested but were as, or slightly more, sensitive at higher frequencies and longer durations. Humans had broader AM tuning functions, with lower frequency regions of peak sensitivity (10-60 Hz) than macaques (30-120 Hz). These results support the notion that there are species differences in temporal processing among primates, and underscore the importance of stimulus duration when making cross-species comparisons for temporally-based tasks.

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