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J Comp Physiol A. 1997 Dec;181(6):665-76.

Frequency and periodicity are represented in orthogonal maps in the human auditory cortex: evidence from magnetoencephalography.

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Institute of Zoology, Technical University Darmstadt, Germany.


Timbre and pitch are two independent perceptual qualities of sounds closely related to the spectral envelope and to the fundamental frequency of periodic temporal envelope fluctuations, respectively. To a first approximation, the spectral and temporal tuning properties of neurons in the auditory midbrain of various animals are independent, with layouts of these tuning properties in approximately orthogonal tonotopic and periodotopic maps. For the first time we demonstrate by means of magnetoencephalography a periodotopic organization of the human auditory cortex and analyse its spatial relationship to the tonotopic organization by using a range of stimuli with different temporal envelope fluctuations and spectra and a magnetometer providing high spatial resolution. We demonstrate an orthogonal arrangement of tonotopic and periodotopic gradients. Our results are in line with the organization of such maps in animals and closely match the perceptual orthogonality of timbre and pitch in humans.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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