[Is the afferent auditory message modulated by the cortex?]

Arch Physiol Biochem. 1997 Dec;105(7):645-54. doi: 10.1076/apab.105.7.645.11387.
[Article in French]


An eventual modulation of the afferent auditory message by the cortex is the subject of this study. To test this hypothesis, clicks (10 Hz, 100 microseconds) of white noise of 40 and 70 dB Hl were sent alternatively into the ears of normally hearing volunteers, while the brainstem evoked potentials were recorded. The subjects were asked to focus or relax their attention on one or other ear. Thirty subjects aged less than 25 years (15 men and 15 women) with normal hearing level, were split into two groups. The first group was asked to focus first on the more strongly stimulated ear (70 dB), the second group on the more weakly stimulated one (40 dB). Each subject received (1) without any instruction about attention: 40 dB on the left ear (L), 70 dB on the right ear (R); 40 dB then 70 dB bilateral; (2) 2 runs with 40 dB on the L and 70 dB on the R focussing on the most or less strongly stimulated ear; (3) a run without instruction with 70 dB on the L and 40 dB on the R, and (4) two runs with 70 dB on the L and 40 dB on the R focussing enough on the more or less strongly stimulated ear. On the evoked potentials simultaneously recorded, amplitudes and latencies of the pikes were measured and compared. From these experiments, the following elements were obtained. (1) The measured potentials were always caused by ipsilateral stimuli. (2) Focussing on left or right ear was not equivalent. (3) A gender difference appeared in the brainstem auditory responses. (4) Preferential attention paid to the left ear was more efficient than to the right one. (5) Attention can alter the whole nervous pathway with considerable lengthening of O-I, O-III, O-V, III-V, I-V but not I-III latencies. The III wave amplitude generally decreased on the side where attention was focussed while V waves seemed not to vary. These first results indicate that a cortico-efferent pathway stimulated by the attention plays a role in the auditory responses modifying the afferent message. These effects were not the same among the side focussing attention and among sex.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology*
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Cochlear Nerve / physiology
  • Dominance, Cerebral
  • Efferent Pathways / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Brain Stem*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Olivary Nucleus / physiology
  • Reaction Time
  • Sex Characteristics