Widespread and Opponent fMRI Signals Represent Sound Location in Macaque Auditory Cortex

Neuron. 2017 Feb 22;93(4):971-983.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.01.013. Epub 2017 Feb 9.


In primates, posterior auditory cortical areas are thought to be part of a dorsal auditory pathway that processes spatial information. But how posterior (and other) auditory areas represent acoustic space remains a matter of debate. Here we provide new evidence based on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the macaque indicating that space is predominantly represented by a distributed hemifield code rather than by a local spatial topography. Hemifield tuning in cortical and subcortical regions emerges from an opponent hemispheric pattern of activation and deactivation that depends on the availability of interaural delay cues. Importantly, these opponent signals allow responses in posterior regions to segregate space similarly to a hemifield code representation. Taken together, our results reconcile seemingly contradictory views by showing that the representation of space follows closely a hemifield code and suggest that enhanced posterior-dorsal spatial specificity in primates might emerge from this form of coding.

Keywords: Auditory Cortex; Auditory Space; Functional MRI; Macaque monkey.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology*
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Macaca
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Sound
  • Sound Localization / physiology*