The right supratemporal plane hears the distance of objects: neuromagnetic correlates of virtual reality

Neuroreport. 2003 Mar 3;14(3):307-11. doi: 10.1097/00001756-200303030-00002.


The neural mechanisms of auditory distance perception, a function of great biological importance, are poorly understood. Where not overruled by conflicting factors such as echoes or visual input, sound intensity is perceived as conveying distance information. We recorded neuromagnetic responses to amplitude variations over both supratemporal planes, with and without auditory spatial simulations. In the absence of other cues for distance, including those provided by auditory virtual reality, amplitude changes elicited enhanced preattentive responses over the right temporal lobe, indicating hemispheric lateralization of the 'where' pathway in the human. Lesion studies in monkeys and humans have shown that the rostral part of the right superior temporal cortex contributes to spatial awareness in the visual domain. Our data indicate that the distance to a sound source is processed within the adjacent right auditory cortex, thus extending the recent model of a right-hemisphere temporal multisensory matrix that subserves the integration of space-related data across visual and auditory modalities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping* / methods
  • Distance Perception / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Male
  • Sound Localization / physiology*
  • User-Computer Interface