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Nat Neurosci. 2016 Jan;19(1):135-42. doi: 10.1038/nn.4195. Epub 2015 Dec 14.

Causal contribution of primate auditory cortex to auditory perceptual decision-making.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Department of Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


Auditory perceptual decisions are thought to be mediated by the ventral auditory pathway. However, the specific and causal contributions of different brain regions in this pathway, including the middle-lateral (ML) and anterolateral (AL) belt regions of the auditory cortex, to auditory decisions have not been fully identified. To identify these contributions, we recorded from and microstimulated ML and AL sites while monkeys decided whether an auditory stimulus contained more low-frequency or high-frequency tone bursts. Both ML and AL neural activity was modulated by the frequency content of the stimulus. But, only the responses of the most stimulus-sensitive AL neurons were systematically modulated by the monkeys' choices. Consistent with this observation, microstimulation of AL, but not ML, systematically biased the monkeys' behavior toward the choice associated with the preferred frequency of the stimulated site. Together, these findings suggest that AL directly and causally contributes sensory evidence to form this auditory decision.

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