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Auditory motion direction encoding in auditory cortex and high-level visual cortex

The aim of this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study was to identify human brain areas that are sensitive to the direction of auditory motion. Such directional sensitivity was assessed in a hypothesis-free manner by analyzing fMRI response patterns across the entire brain volume using a spherical-searchlight approach. In addition, we assessed directional sensitivity in three predefined brain areas that have been associated with auditory motion perception in previous neuroimaging studies. These were the primary auditory cortex, the planum temporale and the visual motion complex (hMT/V5+). Our whole-brain analysis revealed that the direction of sound-source movement could be decoded from fMRI response patterns in the right auditory cortex and in a high-level visual area located in the right lateral occipital cortex. Our region-of-interest-based analysis showed that the decoding of the direction of auditory motion was most reliable with activation patterns of the left and right planum temporale. Auditory motion direction could not be decoded from activation patterns in hMT/V5+. These findings provide further evidence for the planum temporale playing a central role in supporting auditory motion perception. In addition, our findings suggest a cross-modal transfer of directional information to high-level visual cortex in healthy humans. Hum Brain Mapp, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

from Human Brain Mapping

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Mapping feature-sensitivity and attentional modulation in human auditory cortex with functional magnetic resonance imaging

Feature-specific enhancement refers to the process by which selectively attending to a particular stimulus feature specifically increases the response in the same region of the brain that codes that stimulus property. Whereas there are many demonstrations of this mechanism in the visual system, the evidence is less clear in the auditory system. The present functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study examined this process for two complex sound features, namely frequency modulation (FM) and spatial motion. The experimental design enabled us to investigate whether selectively attending to FM and spatial motion enhanced activity in those auditory cortical areas that were sensitive to the two features. To control for attentional effort, the difficulty of the target-detection tasks was matched as closely as possible within listeners. Locations of FM-related and motion-related activation were broadly compatible with previous research. The results also confirmed a general enhancement across the auditory cortex when either feature was being attended to, as compared with passive listening. The feature-specific effects of selective attention revealed the novel finding of enhancement for the nonspatial (FM) feature, but not for the spatial (motion) feature. However, attention to spatial features also recruited several areas outside the auditory cortex. Further analyses led us to conclude that feature-specific effects of selective attention are not statistically robust, and appear to be sensitive to the choice of fMRI experimental design and localizer contrast.

from the European Journal of Neuroscience

How does mismatch negativity reflect auditory motion?

Recent studies have shown that the mismatch negativity (MMN), a change-specific component of the auditory event-related potential (ERP), is accurately tracking the spatial location of the stationary sound source. The aim of the present study was to estimate the parameters of MMNs evoked by auditory motion and to compare the motion discrimination measured by MMN in normally hearing subjects with the psychophysical data obtained in the same group of subjects. The auditory motion was simulated by introducing variable interaural time differences (ITDs) into the deviant stimuli. The ERPs were recorded for frequently occurring stationary midline standards and for infrequent deviant sounds moving horizontally at different velocities. It was established that all the deviant stimuli elicited significant MMNs. The MMN increased monotonically in amplitude with growing angular distances travelled by the deviant stimuli. The deviants that travelled over the same angular distances at different velocities caused MMNs that agreed in magnitude but differed in latency. These results indicated that the angular distance rather than sound image velocity was the most essential cue involved in the MMN generation. To test the psychophysical performance, a two-interval forced-choice task was employed, in which the ITD was the main dependent variable. The deviants that evoked significant MMNs at the minimal ITDs were not discriminated behaviorally, indicating that the motion discrimination of the hearing system may be better at a preattentive level.

from Hearing Research