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Salient 40 Hz sounds probe affective aversion and neural excitability

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Abstract

The human auditory system is not equally reactive to all frequencies of the audible spectrum. Emotional and behavioral reactions to loud or aversive acoustic features can vary from one individual to another, to the point that some exhibit exaggerated or even pathological responses to certain sounds. The neural mechanisms underlying these interindividual differences remain unclear. Whether distinct aversion profiles map onto neural excitability at the individual level needs to be tested. Here, we measured behavioral and EEG responses to click trains (from 10 to 250 Hz, spanning the roughness and pitch perceptual ranges) to test the hypothesis that interindividual variability in aversion to rough sounds is reflected in neural response differences between participants. Linking subjective aversion to 40 Hz steady-state EEG responses, we demonstrate that participants experiencing enhanced aversion to roughness also show stronger neural responses to this attribute. Interestingly, this pattern also correlates with inter-individual anxiety levels, suggesting that this personality trait might interact with subjective sensitivity and neural excitability to these sounds. These results support the idea that 40 Hz sounds can probe the excitability of non-canonical auditory systems involved in exogenous salience processing and aversive responses at the individual level. By linking subjective aversion to neural excitability, 40 Hz sounds provide neuromarkers relevant to a variety of pathological conditions, such as those featuring enhanced emotional sensitivity (hyperacusis, anxiety) or aberrant neural responses at 40 Hz (autism, schizophrenia).
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Dates and versions

pasteur-03924876 , version 1 (05-01-2023)

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Attribution - CC BY 4.0

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F Schneefeld, K Doelling, S Marchesotti, S Schwartz, K Igloi, et al.. Salient 40 Hz sounds probe affective aversion and neural excitability. 2023. ⟨pasteur-03924876⟩
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