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Hear Res. 2014 Jan;307:111-20. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2013.06.010. Epub 2013 Jul 9.

Using neuroimaging to understand the cortical mechanisms of auditory selective attention.

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Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, University of Washington, WA 98195, USA; Department of Speech & Hearing Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA. Electronic address:


Over the last four decades, a range of different neuroimaging tools have been used to study human auditory attention, spanning from classic event-related potential studies using electroencephalography to modern multimodal imaging approaches (e.g., combining anatomical information based on magnetic resonance imaging with magneto- and electroencephalography). This review begins by exploring the different strengths and limitations inherent to different neuroimaging methods, and then outlines some common behavioral paradigms that have been adopted to study auditory attention. We argue that in order to design a neuroimaging experiment that produces interpretable, unambiguous results, the experimenter must not only have a deep appreciation of the imaging technique employed, but also a sophisticated understanding of perception and behavior. Only with the proper caveats in mind can one begin to infer how the cortex supports a human in solving the "cocktail party" problem. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Human Auditory Neuroimaging.


(f)MRI; (functional) magnetic resonance imaging; (r)MFG; (r)TPJ; (right) middle frontal gyrus; (right) temporoparietal junction; AESPA; BOLD; ECD; EEG; ERF; ERP; FEF; HG; Heschl's gyrus; IPS; MEG; MMN; NIRS; PET; PP; PPC; PT; RON; STS; TMS; auditory evoked spread spectrum analysis; blood-oxygenation level dependent; electroencephalography; equivalent current dipole; event-related field; event-related potential; frontal eye fields; intraparietal sulcus; magnetoencephalography; mismatch negativity; near-infrared spectroscopy; planum polare; planum temporale; positron emission tomography; posterior parietal cortex; reorienting negativity; superior temporal sulcus; transcranial magnetic stimulation

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