Parallel Processing in the Auditory Cortex of PrimatesRauschecker J.P.
Georgetown Institute for Cognitive and Computational Sciences, Washington, D.C., USA
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Evidence from anatomical tracer studies as well as lesions of the primary auditory cortex (AI) indicate that the principal relay nucleus of the auditory thalamus, the ventral part of the medial geniculate (MGv), projects in parallel to AI and the rostral area on the supratemporal plane of the macaque monkey. The caudomedial area, by contrast, receives input from MGv only indirectly via AI, and neurons in this area are often tuned to the spatial location of a complex sound. The belt areas on the lateral surface of the superior temporal gyrus receive input from the primary areas. Neurons in these areas respond better to more complex stimuli, such as band-pass noise pulses of frequency-modulated sweeps, than to pure tones. Often neurons in the lateral belt respond well to species-specific communication calls. The hypothesis is put forward that the central auditory pathways in the macaque monkey are organized into parallel streams, similar to the visual system, one for the processing of spatial information, the other for the processing of auditory ‘patterns’. Evidence from neuroimaging studies in humans with MRI and PET are consistent with this hypothesis. Virtual auditory space stimuli lead to selective activation of an inferior parietal region, whereas speech-like stimuli activate superior temporal regions.
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