Evidence from human and non-human primate studies supports a dual-pathway model of audition, with partially segregated cortical networks for sound recognition and sound localisation, referred to as the What and Where processing streams. In normal subjects, these two networks overlap partially on the supra-temporal plane, suggesting that some early-stage auditory areas are involved in processing of either auditory feature alone or of both. Using high-resolution 7-T fMRI we have investigated the influence of positional information on sound object representations by comparing activation patterns to environmental sounds lateralised to the right or left ear. While unilaterally presented sounds induced bilateral activation, small clusters in specific non-primary auditory areas were significantly more activated by contra-laterally presented stimuli. Comparison of these data with histologically identified non-primary auditory areas suggests that the coding of sound objects within early-stage auditory areas lateral and posterior to primary auditory cortex AI is modulated by the position of the sound, while that within anterior areas is not.
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