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Cereb Cortex. 2013 Jul;23(7):1724-30. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhs166. Epub 2012 Jun 12.

A neural link between feeling and hearing.

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Department of Psychology and Program in Cognitive Neuroscience, The City College and Graduate Center of the City University of New York, New York, NY, USA.


Hearing and feeling both rely upon the transduction of physical events into frequency-based neural codes, suggesting that the auditory system may be intimately related to the somatosensory system. Here, we provide evidence that the neural substrates for audition and somatosensation are anatomically linked. Using diffusion tensor imaging with both deterministic and probabilistic tractography to measure white matter connectivity, we show that there are extensive ipsilateral connections between the primary auditory cortex and the primary and secondary somatosensory regions in the human cerebral cortex. We further show that these cross-modal connections are exaggerated between the auditory and secondary somatosensory cortex in the lesioned hemisphere of a patient (SR) with acquired auditory-tactile synesthesia, in whom sounds alone produce bodily sensations. These results provide an anatomical basis for multisensory interactions between audition and somatosensation and suggest that cross-talk between these regions may explain why some sounds, such as nails screeching down a chalkboard or an audible mosquito, can induce feelings of touch, especially on the contralesional body surface of patient SR.


brain; multisensory; sound; synesthesia; touch

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