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PLoS One. 2009 Oct 26;4(10):e7600. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007600.

A population rate code of auditory space in the human cortex.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Engineering and Computational Science, Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki, Finland. nelli.salminen@tkk.fi



Previous work on the human auditory cortex has revealed areas specialized in spatial processing but how the neurons in these areas represent the location of a sound source remains unknown.


Here, we performed a magnetoencephalography (MEG) experiment with the aim of revealing the neural code of auditory space implemented by the human cortex. In a stimulus-specific adaptation paradigm, realistic spatial sound stimuli were presented in pairs of adaptor and probe locations. We found that the attenuation of the N1m response depended strongly on the spatial arrangement of the two sound sources. These location-specific effects showed that sounds originating from locations within the same hemifield activated the same neuronal population regardless of the spatial separation between the sound sources. In contrast, sounds originating from opposite hemifields activated separate groups of neurons.


These results are highly consistent with a rate code of spatial location formed by two opponent populations, one tuned to locations in the left and the other to those in the right. This indicates that the neuronal code of sound source location implemented by the human auditory cortex is similar to that previously found in other primates.

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