The Relationship of Auditory Cortical Activity to Perception and Behavior



A fundamental question in auditory neuroscience is how activity in the brain relates to perception and can a causal link be found? Through the years many approaches have been used. Lesion studies and single unit analysis have led to a better understanding of which areas of the brain are involved in sound processing and how these areas represent important sound features. A growing body of evidence supports a role for primary auditory cortex (AI) not only in simply analyzing sounds, but also in integrating more complex aspects of perception and behavior. In the first section of this chapter we will address how AI activity relates to the perception of stimuli that have been extensively studied behaviorally and psychophysically, and how it relates to well-known psychophysical phenomena associated with perceptually organizing complex ‘auditory scenes’. In subsequent sections we address how attributes not directly represented in the stimulus, such as motivation and attention, are potentially represented in auditory cortex, and, finally, how auditory cortical activity is influenced by sensory motor associations, decisions, and rapid adaptive activity. Together this provides a picture of auditory cortical activity as not strictly and statically representing the physical attributes of a stimulus, but rather AI activity reflects parameters related to the perception of the stimulus and task-related parameters required to perform the appropriate behavior and motor action in response to the stimulus.


Auditory Cortex Inferior Colliculus Rate Code Modulation Depth Primary Auditory Cortex 



auditory cortex


primary auditory cortex


amplitude modulation


best frequency




frequency discrimination


frequency irrelevant


frequency modulation


functional magnetic resonance imaging


inferior colliculus


light-emitting diode


interaural time difference


modulation detection transfer functions




medial geniculate body


dorsal nucleus of the medial geniculate body


medial nucleus of the medial geniculate body


ventral nucleus of the medial geniculate body


middle-temporal field


modulation transfer function


rostral field


receiver operating characteristics


reaction time


sinusoidal amplitude modulation


speech transmission index


spectrotemporal modulation index


spectrotemporal receptive field


voice-onset time


vector strength



Supported by NIH grant DC005779, and the Air Force Office for Scientific Research (to S.A.S.), and NIH grant DC02514, and the McDonnell Foundation (to M.L.S.).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for NeuroscienceUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Electrical EngineeringUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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