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Correlation Between The Activity Of Single Auditory Cortical Neurons And Sound-localization Behavior In The Macaque Monkey.

G. Recanzone, D. C. Guard, M. Phan, T. K. Su
Published 2000 · Biology, Medicine

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Lesion studies have indicated that the auditory cortex is crucial for the perception of acoustic space, yet it remains unclear how these neurons participate in this perception. To investigate this, we studied the responses of single neurons in the primary auditory cortex (AI) and the caudomedial field (CM) of two monkeys while they performed a sound-localization task. Regression analysis indicated that the responses of approximately 80% of neurons in both cortical areas were significantly correlated with the azimuth or elevation of the stimulus, or both, which we term "spatially sensitive." The proportion of spatially sensitive neurons was greater for stimulus azimuth compared with stimulus elevation, and elevation sensitivity was primarily restricted to neurons that were tested using stimuli that the monkeys also could localize in elevation. Most neurons responded best to contralateral speaker locations, but we also encountered neurons that responded best to ipsilateral locations and neurons that had their greatest responses restricted to a circumscribed region within the central 60 degrees of frontal space. Comparing the spatially sensitive neurons with those that were not spatially sensitive indicated that these two populations could not be distinguished based on either the firing rate, the rate/level functions, or on their topographic location within AI. Direct comparisons between the responses of individual neurons and the behaviorally measured sound-localization ability indicated that proportionally more neurons in CM had spatial sensitivity that was consistent with the behavioral performance compared with AI neurons. Pooling the responses across neurons strengthened the relationship between the neuronal and psychophysical data and indicated that the responses pooled across relatively few CM neurons contain enough information to account for sound-localization ability. These data support the hypothesis that auditory space is processed in a serial manner from AI to CM in the primate cerebral cortex.
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