A cortical region sensitive to auditory spectral motion

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The functional architecture of human auditory cortex is still poorly understood compared with that of visual cortex, yet anatomical and electrophysiological studies in non-human primates suggest that the auditory cortex also might be functionally specialized, in a model of parallel and hierarchical organization. In particular, spectral changes such as the formant transitions of speech, or spectral motion (SM) by analogy with visual motion, could be processed in specialized cortical regions. In this study, positron emission tomography (PET) was used to identify which auditory cortical region are involved in SM analysis. We found that a bilateral secondary auditory cortical region, located in the caudal-lateral belt of auditory cortex, was more sensitive to auditory stimuli containing spectral changes than to matched stimuli with a stationary spectral profile. This result suggests that analogies between sensory systems could prove useful in the research into the functional organization of the auditory cortex.

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