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J Neurosci. 2012 May 2;32(18):6177-82. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5153-11.2012.

A corticostriatal neural system enhances auditory perception through temporal context processing.

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Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


The temporal context of an acoustic signal can greatly influence its perception. The present study investigated the neural correlates underlying perceptual facilitation by regular temporal contexts in humans. Participants listened to temporally regular (periodic) or temporally irregular (nonperiodic) sequences of tones while performing an intensity discrimination task. Participants performed significantly better on intensity discrimination during periodic than nonperiodic tone sequences. There was greater activation in the putamen for periodic than nonperiodic sequences. Conversely, there was greater activation in bilateral primary and secondary auditory cortices (planum polare and planum temporale) for nonperiodic than periodic sequences. Across individuals, greater putamen activation correlated with lesser auditory cortical activation in both right and left hemispheres. These findings suggest that temporal regularity is detected in the putamen, and that such detection facilitates temporal-lobe cortical processing associated with superior auditory perception. Thus, this study reveals a corticostriatal system associated with contextual facilitation for auditory perception through temporal regularity processing.

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