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Concept: Frequency modulation


BACKGROUND: Language comprehension requires decoding of complex, rapidly changing speech streams. Detecting changes of frequency modulation (FM) within speech is hypothesized as essential for accurate phoneme detection, and thus, for spoken word comprehension. Despite past demonstration of FM auditory evoked response (FMAER) utility in language disorder investigations, it is seldom utilized clinically. This report’s purpose is to facilitate clinical use by explaining analytic pitfalls, demonstrating sites of cortical origin, and illustrating potential utility. RESULTS: FMAERs collected from children with language disorders, including Developmental Dysphasia, Landau-Kleffner syndrome (LKS), and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and also normal controls - utilizing multi-channel reference-free recordings assisted by discrete source analysis - provided demonstratrions of cortical origin and examples of clinical utility. Recordings from inpatient epileptics with indwelling cortical electrodes provided, direct assessment of FMAER origin. The FMAER is shown to normally arise from bilateral posterior superior temporal gyri and immediate temporal lobe surround. Childhood language disorders associated with prominent receptive deficits demonstrate absent left or bilateral FMAER temporal lobe responses. When receptive language is spared, the FMAER may remain present bilaterally. Analyses based upon mastoid or ear reference electrodes are shown to result in erroneous conclusions. Serial FMAER studies may dynamically track status of underlying language processing in LKS. FMAERs in ASD with language impairment may be normal or abnormal. Cortical FMAERs can locate language cortex when conventional cortical stimulation does not. CONCLUSION: The FMAER measures the processing by the superior temporal gyri and adjacent cortex of rapid frequency modulation within an auditory stream. Clinical disorders associated with receptive deficits are shown to demonstrate absent left or bilateral responses. Serial FMAERs may be useful for tracking language change in LKS. Cortical FMAERs may augment invasive cortical language testing in epilepsy surgical patients. The FMAER may be normal in ASD and other language disorders when pathology spares the superior temporal gyrus and surround but presumably involves other brain regions. Ear/mastoid reference electrodes should be avoided and multichannel, reference free recordings utilized. Source analysis may assist in better understanding of complex FMAER findings.

Concepts: Cerebral cortex, Temporal lobe, Cerebrum, Superior temporal gyrus, Wernicke's area, Autism, Modulation, Frequency modulation


Amplitude modulation can serve as a cue for segregating streams of sounds from different sources. Here we evaluate stream segregation in humans using ABA- sequences of sinusoidally amplitude modulated (SAM) tones. A and B represent SAM tones with the same carrier frequency (1000, 4000 Hz) and modulation depth (30, 100%). The modulation frequency of the A signals (f(modA)) was 30, 100 or 300 Hz, respectively. The modulation frequency of the B signals was up to four octaves higher (Δf(mod)). Three different ABA- tone patterns varying in tone duration and stimulus onset asynchrony were presented to evaluate the effect of forward suppression. Subjects indicated their 1- or 2-stream percept on a touch screen at the end of each ABA- sequence (presentation time 5 or 15 s). Tone pattern, f(modA), Δf(mod), carrier frequency, modulation depth and presentation time significantly affected the percentage of a 2-stream percept. The human psychophysical results are compared to responses of avian forebrain neurons evoked by different ABA- SAM tone conditions [1] that were broadly overlapping those of the present study. The neurons also showed significant effects of tone pattern and Δf(mod) that were comparable to effects observed in the present psychophysical study. Depending on the carrier frequency, modulation frequency, modulation depth and the width of the auditory filters, SAM tones may provide mainly temporal cues (sidebands fall within the range of the filter), spectral cues (sidebands fall outside the range of the filter) or possibly both. A computational model based on excitation pattern differences was used to predict the 50% threshold of 2-stream responses. In conditions for which the model predicts a considerably larger 50% threshold of 2-stream responses (i.e., larger Δf(mod) at threshold) than was observed, it is unlikely that spectral cues can provide an explanation of stream segregation by SAM.

Concepts: Modulation, Sound, Frequency modulation, Amplitude modulation, Carrier wave, Baseband, Single-sideband modulation, Quadrature amplitude modulation


Heightened awareness of the ever-expanding use of radiofrequency (RF) techniques and technology has led to mounting concerns from the general public and the scientific community regarding the possible health effects that may arise as a consequence of exposure to RF radiations and has drawn the attention of many researchers the world over. A survey of the RF electromagnetic radiation at public access points in the vicinity of 20 frequency-modulated (FM) radio stations has been made in Accra, Ghana. The fundamental object was to determine the levels of RF fields from FM broadcast antennae within 10-200 m radius about the foot of the FM base station and at a height of 1.5 m above the ground at selected locations. A spectrum analyser and a bi-conical antenna element sensitive and effective within the frequency band of 30-300 MHz were used. Results obtained indicated that the levels of electric field strength ranged from 5.4E-04 V m(-1) at FM station ‘O’ to 7.4E-08 V m(-1) at FM station ’D'. At a transmission frequency range of 88-108 MHz, the variation of power densities is from 2.5E-10 to 1.5E-17 Wm(-2). These values are very low and are far below the reference level set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection and therefore do not pose any known hazard to the inhabitants of Accra, Ghana. The electric field levels presented in this work are comparable with those reported from epidemiological studies conducted elsewhere.

Concepts: Electromagnetism, Electromagnetic radiation, Electromagnetic spectrum, Frequency, Radio, Frequency modulation, AM broadcasting, FM broadcasting


Detection thresholds for 100 ms of either 5- or 20-Hz frequency modulation (FM) were measured at various temporal positions within a 600-ms, 4-kHz pure-tone carrier. The results indicated that the temporal position of the signal relative to the fringe influences detection thresholds, including an effect that is reminiscent of auditory backward recognition masking. A task involving frequency increments, rather than sinusoidal FM, yielded similar results. Additional manipulation of total carrier duration indicated that FM detection thresholds improve as the duration of the forward fringe increases, while a backward fringe only degrades performance in the absence of any forward fringe. The results suggest that listeners are insensitive to subtle frequency changes that occur at the onset of a longer stimulus and that the interaction between the opposing effects of the forward and backward fringes is not additive.

Concepts: Frequency modulation


Oscillators, which produce continuous periodic signals from direct current power, are central to modern communications systems, with versatile applications including timing references and frequency modulators. However, conventional oscillators typically consist of macroscopic mechanical resonators such as quartz crystals, which require excessive off-chip space. Here, we report oscillators built on micrometre-size, atomically thin graphene nanomechanical resonators, whose frequencies can be electrostatically tuned by as much as 14%. Self-sustaining mechanical motion is generated and transduced at room temperature in these oscillators using simple electrical circuitry. The prototype graphene voltage-controlled oscillators exhibit frequency stability and a modulation bandwidth sufficient for the modulation of radiofrequency carrier signals. As a demonstration, we use a graphene oscillator as the active element for frequency-modulated signal generation and achieve efficient audio signal transmission.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Resonator, Oscillation, Wave, Alternating current, Modulation, Frequency modulation, Carrier wave


Natural environments elicit both phase-locked and non-phase-locked neural responses to the stimulus in the brain. The interpretation of the BOLD signal to date has been based on an association of the non-phase-locked power of high-frequency local field potentials (LFPs), or the related spiking activity in single neurons or groups of neurons. Previous studies have not examined the prediction of the BOLD signal by phase-locked responses. We examined the relationship between the BOLD response and LFPs in the same nine human subjects from multiple corresponding points in the auditory cortex, using amplitude modulated pure tone stimuli of a duration to allow an analysis of phase locking of the sustained time period without contamination from the onset response. The results demonstrate that both phase locking at the modulation frequency and its harmonics, and the oscillatory power in gamma/high-gamma bands are required to predict the BOLD response. Biophysical models of BOLD signal generation in auditory cortex therefore require revision and the incorporation of both phase locking to rhythmic sensory stimuli and power changes in the ensemble neural activity.

Concepts: Neuron, Brain, Human brain, Phase, Modulation, Sound, Pure tone audiometry, Frequency modulation


Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is widely used in liquid environments, where true atomic resolution at the solid-liquid interface can now be routinely achieved. It is generally expected that AFM operation in more viscous environments results in an increased noise contribution from the thermal motion of the cantilever, thereby reducing the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Thus, viscous fluids such as ionic and organic liquids have been generally avoided for high-resolution AFM studies despite their relevance to, e.g. energy applications. Here, we investigate the thermal noise limitations of dynamic AFM operation in both low and high viscosity environments theoretically, deriving expressions for the amplitude, phase and frequency noise resulting from the thermal motion of the cantilever, thereby defining the performance limits of amplitude modulation, phase modulation and frequency modulation AFM. We show that the assumption of a reduced SNR in viscous environments is not inherent to the technique and demonstrate that SNR values comparable to ultra-high vacuum systems can be obtained in high viscosity environments under certain conditions. Finally, we have obtained true atomic resolution images of highly ordered pyrolytic graphite and mica surfaces, thus revealing the potential of high-resolution imaging in high viscosity environments.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Viscosity, Liquid, Modulation, Signal-to-noise ratio, Frequency modulation, Amplitude modulation, Phase modulation


Anecdotal reports of ultrasound use by flying squirrels have existed for decades, yet there has been little detailed analysis of their vocalizations. Here we demonstrate that two species of flying squirrel emit ultrasonic vocalizations. We recorded vocalizations from northern (Glaucomys sabrinus) and southern (G. volans) flying squirrels calling in both the laboratory and at a field site in central Ontario, Canada. We demonstrate that flying squirrels produce ultrasonic emissions through recorded bursts of broadband noise and time-frequency structured frequency modulated (FM) vocalizations, some of which were purely ultrasonic. Squirrels emitted three types of ultrasonic calls in laboratory recordings and one type in the field. The variety of signals that were recorded suggest that flying squirrels may use ultrasonic vocalizations to transfer information. Thus, vocalizations may be an important, although still poorly understood, aspect of flying squirrel social biology.

Concepts: Species, Squirrel, Frequency modulation, Flying squirrel, Squirrels, Sciurinae, Northern flying squirrel, Flying squirrels


We propose a spectrally efficient digitized radio-over-fiber (D-RoF) system by grouping highly correlated neighboring samples of the analog signals into multidimensional vectors, where the k-means clustering algorithm is adopted for adaptive quantization. A 30  Gbit/s D-RoF system is experimentally demonstrated to validate the proposed scheme, reporting a carrier aggregation of up to 40 100 MHz orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) channels with quadrate amplitude modulation (QAM) order of 4 and an aggregation of 10 100 MHz OFDM channels with a QAM order of 16384. The equivalent common public radio interface rates from 37 to 150  Gbit/s are supported. Besides, the error vector magnitude (EVM) of 8% is achieved with the number of quantization bits of 4, and the EVM can be further reduced to 1% by increasing the number of quantization bits to 7. Compared with conventional pulse coding modulation-based D-RoF systems, the proposed D-RoF system improves the signal-to-noise-ratio up to ∼9  dB and greatly reduces the EVM, given the same number of quantization bits.

Concepts: Cluster analysis, Machine learning, Modulation, Multiplexing, Frequency modulation, Frequency-division multiplexing, Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing, Constellation diagram


We demonstrate a technique to reduce the sidelobes in optical pulse compression reflectometry for distributed acoustic sensing. The technique is based on using a Gaussian probe pulse with linear frequency modulation. This is shown to improve the sidelobe suppression by 13 dB compared to the use of square pulses without any significant penalty in terms of spatial resolution. In addition, a 2.25 dB enhancement in signal-to-noise ratio is calculated compared to the use of receiver-side windowing. The method is tested by measuring 700 Hz vibrations with a 140  nε amplitude at the end of a 50 km fiber sensing link with 34 cm spatial resolution, giving a record 147,058 spatially resolved points.

Concepts: Diffraction, Optics, Physics, Wave, Frequency, Wavelength, Sound, Frequency modulation