Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 153, Issue 4, pp 405–417 | Cite as

The psychophysics and physiology of comodulation masking release

  • Jesko L. Verhey
  • Daniel Pressnitzer
  • Ian M. Winter


The ability to detect auditory signals from background noise may be enhanced by the addition of energy in frequency regions well removed from the frequency of the signal. However, it is important that this energy is amplitude-modulated in a coherent way across frequencies, i.e. comodulated. This enhancement of signal detectability is known as comodulation masking release (CMR), and in this review we show that CMR is largest if: (1) the total masker's bandwidth is large, (2) the modulation frequency is low, (3) the modulation depth is high, (4) the envelope is regular and, (5) the masker's spectrum level is high. Possible physiological correlates of CMR have been found at different levels of the auditory pathway. Current hypotheses for the underlying physiological mechanisms, including wide-band inhibition or the disruption of masker modulation envelope response, are discussed.


Cochlear nucleus Auditory cortex Amplitude modulation Wide-band inhibition Across-frequency processing 



Across-channel masking


Across-frequency comodulation masking release


Best frequency


Critical band






Comodulation masking release


Dorsal cochlear nucleus




Equivalent rectangular bandwidth


Flanking band


On-frequency masker




Sinusoidal amplitude modulation




Ventral cochlear nucleus


Wide-band inhibition



Supported by the Wellcome Trust. The second author is currently supported by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. We thank Ray Meddis for many helpful discussions on the physiological mechanisms of CMR and the selection of appropriate stimuli.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jesko L. Verhey
    • 1
  • Daniel Pressnitzer
    • 1
  • Ian M. Winter
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for the Neural Basis of HearingThe Physiological LaboratoryCambridgeUK

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