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
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