Functional specialization of medial auditory belt cortex in the alert rhesus monkey

J Neurophysiol. 2009 Sep;102(3):1606-22. doi: 10.1152/jn.00167.2009. Epub 2009 Jul 1.


Responses of neural units in two areas of the medial auditory belt (middle medial area [MM] and rostral medial area [RM]) were tested with tones, noise bursts, monkey calls (MC), and environmental sounds (ES) in microelectrode recordings from two alert rhesus monkeys. For comparison, recordings were also performed from two core areas (primary auditory area [A1] and rostral area [R]) of the auditory cortex. All four fields showed cochleotopic organization, with best (center) frequency [BF(c)] gradients running in opposite directions in A1 and MM than in R and RM. The medial belt was characterized by a stronger preference for band-pass noise than for pure tones found medially to the core areas. Response latencies were shorter for the two more posterior (middle) areas MM and A1 than for the two rostral areas R and RM, reaching values as low as 6 ms for high BF(c) in MM and A1, and strongly depended on BF(c). The medial belt areas exhibited a higher selectivity to all stimuli, in particular to noise bursts, than the core areas. An increased selectivity to tones and noise bursts was also found in the anterior fields; the opposite was true for highly temporally modulated ES. Analysis of the structure of neural responses revealed that neurons were driven by low-level acoustic features in all fields. Thus medial belt areas RM and MM have to be considered early stages of auditory cortical processing. The anteroposterior difference in temporal processing indices suggests that R and RM may belong to a different hierarchical level or a different computational network than A1 and MM.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / cytology
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Environment
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Noise*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Sound Localization / physiology*
  • Spectrum Analysis
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Wakefulness / physiology*