Complex tone processing in primary auditory cortex of the awake monkey. II. Pitch versus critical band representation

J Acoust Soc Am. 2000 Jul;108(1):247-62. doi: 10.1121/1.429461.


Noninvasive neurophysiological studies in humans support the existence of an orthogonal spatial representation of pure tone frequency and complex tone pitch in auditory cortex [Langner et al., J. Comp. Physiol. A 181, 665-676 (1997)]. However, since this topographic organization is based on neuromagnetic responses evoked by wideband harmonic complexes (HCs) of variable fundamental frequency (f0), and thus interharmonic frequency separation (deltaF), critical band filtering effects due to differential resolvability of harmonics may have contributed to shaping these responses. To test this hypothesis, the present study examined responses evoked by three-component HCs of variable f0 in primary auditory cortex (A1) of the awake monkey. The center frequency of the HCs was fixed at the best frequency (BF) of the cortical site. Auditory evoked potential (AEP), multiunit activity, and current source density techniques were used to evaluate A1 responses as a function of f0 (=deltaF). Generally, amplitudes of nearly all response components increased with f0, such that maximal responses were evoked by HCs comprised of low-order resolved harmonics. Statistically significant increases in response amplitude typically occurred at deltaFs between 10% and 20% of center frequency, suggestive of critical bandlike behavior. Complex tone response amplitudes also reflected nonlinear summation in that they could not be predicted by the pure tone frequency sensitivity curves of the cortical sites. A mechanism accounting for the observed results is proposed which involves mutual lateral inhibitory interactions between responses evoked by stimulus components lying within the same critical band. As intracortical AEP components likely to be propagated to the scalp were also strongly modulated by deltaF, these findings indicate that noninvasive recordings of responses to complex sounds may require a consideration of critical band effects in their interpretation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Male
  • Pitch Perception* / physiology*
  • Wakefulness / physiology*