Human cortical auditory motion areas are not motion selective

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The existence of a specialized mechanism supporting auditory motion processing in humans is a matter of debate in the psychophysical literature. Recent functional neuroimaging data appear to have resolved the debate in favor of a specialized motion system in that several studies have found cortical regions that seem to be motion selective. While all these studies contrast some form of moving auditory stimulation with a stationary stimulus, none have adequately controlled for the possibility that these areas are simply computing sound-source location and not motion per se: a moving stimulus varies in spatial location as well as motion, and so a system computing spatial location (and not motion) would be activated in response to both a moving and stationary sound source. To control for this possibility, ten subjects were scanned while listening to moving stimuli and while listening to stationary stimuli that varied randomly in spatial location. Consistent with previous imaging studies, we found that a motion stimulus when contrasted with rest (scanner noise) activated STG/planum temporale (bilaterally) and right parietal lobe. However, stationary stimuli presented at varying locations activated these regions equally well, arguing against the existence of specialized motion-processing areas in human cortex.

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