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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Apr 5;113(14):3873-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1523357113. Epub 2016 Mar 21.

Spatiotemporal dynamics of auditory attention synchronize with speech.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Lübeck, 23562 Luebeck, Germany; Max Planck Research Group "Auditory Cognition," Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, 04103 Leipzig, Germany; malte.woestmann@uni-luebeck.de jonas.obleser@uni-luebeck.de.
2
Max Planck Research Group "Auditory Cognition," Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, 04103 Leipzig, Germany; Department of Psychology, The University of Western Ontario, London, Canada N6A 5C2;
3
Magnetoencephalography and Cortical Networks Unit, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.

Abstract

Attention plays a fundamental role in selectively processing stimuli in our environment despite distraction. Spatial attention induces increasing and decreasing power of neural alpha oscillations (8-12 Hz) in brain regions ipsilateral and contralateral to the locus of attention, respectively. This study tested whether the hemispheric lateralization of alpha power codes not just the spatial location but also the temporal structure of the stimulus. Participants attended to spoken digits presented to one ear and ignored tightly synchronized distracting digits presented to the other ear. In the magnetoencephalogram, spatial attention induced lateralization of alpha power in parietal, but notably also in auditory cortical regions. This alpha power lateralization was not maintained steadily but fluctuated in synchrony with the speech rate and lagged the time course of low-frequency (1-5 Hz) sensory synchronization. Higher amplitude of alpha power modulation at the speech rate was predictive of a listener's enhanced performance of stream-specific speech comprehension. Our findings demonstrate that alpha power lateralization is modulated in tune with the sensory input and acts as a spatiotemporal filter controlling the read-out of sensory content.

KEYWORDS:

alpha lateralization; attention; neural oscillations; speech; synchronization

PMID:
27001861
PMCID:
PMC4833226
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1523357113
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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