Early stages of melody processing: stimulus-sequence and task-dependent neuronal activity in monkey auditory cortical fields A1 and R

J Neurophysiol. 2008 Dec;100(6):3009-29. doi: 10.1152/jn.00828.2007. Epub 2008 Oct 8.


To explore the effects of acoustic and behavioral context on neuronal responses in the core of auditory cortex (fields A1 and R), two monkeys were trained on a go/no-go discrimination task in which they learned to respond selectively to a four-note target (S+) melody and withhold response to a variety of other nontarget (S-) sounds. We analyzed evoked activity from 683 units in A1/R of the trained monkeys during task performance and from 125 units in A1/R of two naive monkeys. We characterized two broad classes of neural activity that were modulated by task performance. Class I consisted of tone-sequence-sensitive enhancement and suppression responses. Enhanced or suppressed responses to specific tonal components of the S+ melody were frequently observed in trained monkeys, but enhanced responses were rarely seen in naive monkeys. Both facilitatory and suppressive responses in the trained monkeys showed a temporal pattern different from that observed in naive monkeys. Class II consisted of nonacoustic activity, characterized by a task-related component that correlated with bar release, the behavioral response leading to reward. We observed a significantly higher percentage of both Class I and Class II neurons in field R than in A1. Class I responses may help encode a long-term representation of the behaviorally salient target melody. Class II activity may reflect a variety of nonacoustic influences, such as attention, reward expectancy, somatosensory inputs, and/or motor set and may help link auditory perception and behavioral response. Both types of neuronal activity are likely to contribute to the performance of the auditory task.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / cytology*
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology
  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Neurons / classification
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Statistics, Nonparametric