The rough sound of salience enhances aversion through neural synchronisation

Nat Commun. 2019 Aug 14;10(1):3671. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-11626-7.


Being able to produce sounds that capture attention and elicit rapid reactions is the prime goal of communication. One strategy, exploited by alarm signals, consists in emitting fast but perceptible amplitude modulations in the roughness range (30-150 Hz). Here, we investigate the perceptual and neural mechanisms underlying aversion to such temporally salient sounds. By measuring subjective aversion to repetitive acoustic transients, we identify a nonlinear pattern of aversion restricted to the roughness range. Using human intracranial recordings, we show that rough sounds do not merely affect local auditory processes but instead synchronise large-scale, supramodal, salience-related networks in a steady-state, sustained manner. Rough sounds synchronise activity throughout superior temporal regions, subcortical and cortical limbic areas, and the frontal cortex, a network classically involved in aversion processing. This pattern correlates with subjective aversion in all these regions, consistent with the hypothesis that roughness enhances auditory aversion through spreading of neural synchronisation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Acoustics
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy / surgery
  • Electrocorticography
  • Epilepsies, Partial / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sound*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult