Different brain areas integrate information over different timescales, and this capacity to accumulate information increases from early sensory areas to higher order perceptual and cognitive areas. It is currently unknown whether the timescale capacity of each brain area is fixed or whether it adaptively rescales depending on the rate at which information arrives from the world. Here, using functional MRI, we measured brain responses to an auditory narrative presented at different rates. We asked whether neural responses to slowed (speeded) versions of the narrative could be compressed (stretched) to match neural responses to the original narrative. Temporal rescaling was observed in early auditory regions (which accumulate information over short timescales) as well as linguistic and extra-linguistic brain areas (which can accumulate information over long timescales). The temporal rescaling phenomenon started to break down for stimuli presented at double speed, and intelligibility was also impaired for these stimuli. These data suggest that 1) the rate of neural information processing can be rescaled according to the rate of incoming information, both in early sensory regions as well as in higher order cortexes, and 2) the rescaling of neural dynamics is confined to a range of rates that match the range of behavioral performance.
Keywords: fMRI; real-life auditory stimuli; slow and fast rates of speech; speed of information processing.
Copyright © 2014 the American Physiological Society.