Multivoxel codes for representing and integrating acoustic features in human cortex

Neuroimage. 2020 Aug 15:217:116661. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.116661. Epub 2020 Feb 17.


Using fMRI and multivariate pattern analysis, we determined whether spectral and temporal acoustic features are represented by independent or integrated multivoxel codes in human cortex. Listeners heard band-pass noise varying in frequency (spectral) and amplitude-modulation (AM) rate (temporal) features. In the superior temporal plane, changes in multivoxel activity due to frequency were largely invariant with respect to AM rate (and vice versa), consistent with an independent representation. In contrast, in posterior parietal cortex, multivoxel representation was exclusively integrated and tuned to specific conjunctions of frequency and AM features (albeit weakly). Direct between-region comparisons show that whereas independent coding of frequency weakened with increasing levels of the hierarchy, such a progression for AM and integrated coding was less fine-grained and only evident in the higher hierarchical levels from non-core to parietal cortex (with AM coding weakening and integrated coding strengthening). Our findings support the notion that primary auditory cortex can represent spectral and temporal acoustic features in an independent fashion and suggest a role for parietal cortex in feature integration and the structuring of sensory input.

Keywords: Auditory cortex; Feature binding; Multivariate; Parietal cortex; fMRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Auditory Cortex / diagnostic imaging*
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Noise
  • Parietal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Young Adult