Selective entrainment of brain oscillations drives auditory perceptual organization

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Perceptual sound organization supports our ability to make sense of the complex acoustic environment, to understand speech and to enjoy music. However, the neuronal mechanisms underlying the subjective experience of perceiving univocal auditory patterns that can be listened to, despite hearing all sounds in a scene, are poorly understood. We hereby investigated the manner in which competing sound organizations are simultaneously represented by specific brain activity patterns and the way attention and task demands prime the internal model generating the current percept. Using a selective attention task on ambiguous auditory stimulation coupled with EEG recordings, we found that the phase of low-frequency oscillatory activity dynamically tracks multiple sound organizations concurrently. However, whereas the representation of ignored sound patterns is circumscribed to auditory regions, large-scale oscillatory entrainment in auditory, sensory-motor and executive-control network areas reflects the active perceptual organization, thereby giving rise to the subjective experience of a unitary percept.

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