Asymmetric sampling in human auditory cortex

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Asymmetric sampling in human auditory cortex reveals spectral processing hierarchy.

Speech perception is mediated by both left and right auditory cortices but with differential sensitivity to specific acoustic information contained in the speech signal. A detailed description of this functional asymmetry is missing, and the underlying models are widely debated. We analyzed cortical responses from 96 epilepsy patients with electrode implantation in left or right primary, secondary, and/or association auditory cortex (AAC). We presented short acoustic transients to noninvasively estimate the dynamical properties of multiple functional regions along the auditory cortical hierarchy. We show remarkably similar bimodal spectral response profiles in left and right primary and secondary regions, with evoked activity composed of dynamics in the theta (around 4-8 Hz) and beta-gamma (around 15-40 Hz) ranges. Beyond these first cortical levels of auditory processing, a hemispheric asymmetry emerged, with delta and beta band (3/15 Hz) responsivity prevailing in the right hemisphere and theta and gamma band (6/40 Hz) activity prevailing in the left. This asymmetry is also present during syllables presentation, but the evoked responses in AAC are more heterogeneous, with the co-occurrence of alpha (around 10 Hz) and gamma (>25 Hz) activity bilaterally. These intracranial data provide a more fine-grained and nuanced characterization of cortical auditory processing in the 2 hemispheres, shedding light on the neural dynamics that potentially shape auditory and speech processing at different levels of the cortical hierarchy.

PMID: 32119667 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

PLoS Biol. 2020 03;18(3):e3000207

Authors: Giroud J, Trébuchon A, Schön D, Marquis P, Liegeois-Chauvel C, Poeppel D, Morillon