Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Edward W. Large, Heather L. Read, James Magnuson, Erika Skoe, Gerry Altmann

Field of Study

Psychological Sciences


Master of Science

Open Access

Campus Access


Pulse is the perceptual phenomenon in which an individual perceives a steady beat underlying a complex auditory rhythm, as in music. The neural mechanism by which the pulse is computed from a complex rhythm is a topic of current debate among researchers. Studies demonstrating neural entrainment to complex rhythms support Neural Resonance Theory (NRT), which predicts that synchronization of neural oscillations is the mechanism of pulse perception. However, with few exceptions, previous studies fail to rule out the possibility that observed steady-state evoked potentials (SS-EPs) arise from transient or passive responses to stimulus periodicities. This study exploits stimulus rhythms that have no spectral energy at the frequency people perceive as the pulse (Large, Herrera, & Velasco, 2015). A dynamical systems model based on NRT predicts that endogenous oscillations will emerge at the “missing” pulse frequency. It is known that people perceive the missing pulse (Large et al., 2015), and a few studies have reported missing pulse responses in auditory brain areas (Cirelli, Spinelli, Nozaradan, & Trainor, 2016; Nozaradan, Peretz, & Mouraux, 2012; Tal et al., 2017). However, a number of questions remain. In the current study, we observed 1) strong pulse-frequency SS-EPs to isochronous and missing pulse rhythms, but not to a random control; 2) strong coherence between model-predicted SS-EPs and brain responses; and 3) differing pulse-frequency topographies for missing pulse rhythms (versus isochronous and random). These results support the theory that pulse perception occurs as the result of an emergent population oscillation that entrains at the pulse frequency.

Major Advisor

Edward W. Large