Direct recordings of pitch responses from human auditory cortex

Curr Biol. 2010 Jun 22;20(12):1128-32. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2010.04.044. Epub 2010 Jun 3.


Pitch is a fundamental percept with a complex relationship to the associated sound structure. Pitch perception requires brain representation of both the structure of the stimulus and the pitch that is perceived. We describe direct recordings of local field potentials from human auditory cortex made while subjects perceived the transition between noise and a noise with a regular repetitive structure in the time domain at the millisecond level called regular-interval noise (RIN). RIN is perceived to have a pitch when the rate is above the lower limit of pitch, at approximately 30 Hz. Sustained time-locked responses are observed to be related to the temporal regularity of the stimulus, commonly emphasized as a relevant stimulus feature in models of pitch perception (e.g., [1]). Sustained oscillatory responses are also demonstrated in the high gamma range (80-120 Hz). The regularity responses occur irrespective of whether the response is associated with pitch perception. In contrast, the oscillatory responses only occur for pitch. Both responses occur in primary auditory cortex and adjacent nonprimary areas. The research suggests that two types of pitch-related activity occur in humans in early auditory cortex: time-locked neural correlates of stimulus regularity and an oscillatory response related to the pitch percept.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Humans