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Asymmetries in the representation of space in the human auditory cortex depend on the global stimulus context

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DatePublished - 2 Mar 2016
Issue number4
Number of pages5
Pages (from-to)242-246
Original languageEnglish


Studies on humans and other mammals have provided evidence for a two-channel or three-channel representation of horizontal space in the auditory system, with one channel maximally responsive to each of the left hemispace, the right hemispace and, possibly, the midline. Mammalian studies have suggested that the contralateral channel is larger in both cortices, but human studies have found this contralateral preference in only one of the cortices. However, human studies are in conflict as to whether the contralateral preference is in the left or the right auditory cortex, and there are a number of methodological differences that this conflict could be attributed to. A key difference between studies is the duration of the silent interval preceding each stimulus and any perception of sound-source movement that the absence of a silent interval creates. We presented auditory noises that alternated between -90° (left) and +90° (right) and recorded neural responses (event-related potentials) using electroencephalography. We randomly varied the duration of the silent interval preceding each stimulus to create a condition with an immediate (local) stimulus context similar to that used in a study reporting contralateral preference in the left auditory cortex, a condition with a local context similar to that in a study reporting contralateral preference in the right auditory cortex, and an intermediate condition. Surprisingly, we found that both auditory cortices exhibited a similarly strong contralateral preference under all conditions, with responses 27% greater, on average, to the contralateral than the ipsilateral space. This suggests that both the cortices can exhibit a contralateral preference, but whether these preferences manifest depends on the global, rather than the local, stimulus context. Copyright © 2016 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.

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© 2016 Wolters Kluwer Health, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details

    Research areas

  • Auditory cortex, Cerebral dominance, Event-related potentials, Human auditory system, Lateralization, Spatial processing

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