Background: Auditory steady-state response (ASSR) induced by repetitive auditory stimulus is commonly used for audiometric testing. ASSR can be measured using electro-encephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG), referred to as steady-state auditory evoked potential (SSAEP) and steady-state auditory evoked field (SSAEF), respectively. However, the signal level of SSAEP and SSAEF are weak so that signal processing technique is required to increase its signal-to-noise ratio. In this study, a complementary ensemble empirical mode decomposition (CEEMD)-based approach is proposed in MEG study and the extraction of SSAEF has been demonstrated in normal subjects and tinnitus patients. Methods: The CEEMD utilizes noise assisted data analysis (NADA) approach by adding positive and negative noise to decompose MEG signals into complementary intrinsic mode functions (IMF). Ten subjects (five normal and five tinnitus patients) were studied. The auditory stimulus was designed as 1kHz carrier frequency with 37Hz modulation frequency. Two channels in the vicinities of right and left temporal areas were chosen as channel-of-interests (COI) and decomposed into IMFs. The spatial distribution of each IMF was correlated with a pair of left- and right-hemisphere spatial templates, designed from each subject'sN100m responses in pure-tone auditory stimulation. IMFs with spatial distributions highly correlated with spatial templates were identified using K-means and those SSAEF-related IMFs were used to reconstruct noise-suppressed SSAEFs. Results: The current strengths estimated from CEEMD processed SSAEF showed neural activities greater or comparable to those processed by conventional filtering method. Both the normal and tinnitus groups showed the phenomenon of right-hemisphere dominance. The mean current strengths of auditory-induced neural activities in tinnitus group were larger than the normal group. Conclusions: The present study proposes an effective method for SSAEF extraction. The enhanced SSAEF in tinnitus group echoes the decreased inhibition in tinnitus's central auditory structures as reported in previous studies.
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