Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Sensitivity of brain center for ‘sound space’ defined by group led by Hebrew University researcher

While the visual regions of the brain have been intensively mapped, many important regions for auditory processing remain “uncharted territory.” Now, researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and elsewhere have identified a region responsible for a key auditory process — perceiving “sound space,” the location of sounds, even when the listener is not concentrating on those sounds.

The findings settle a controversy in earlier studies that failed to establish the auditory region, called the planum temporale, as responsible for perception of auditory space by default.

The researchers, led by Dr. Leon Y. Deouell, of the Psychology Department and the Interdisciplinary Center for Neural Computation of the Hebrew University, and colleagues from the University of California, Berkeley, and the Weizmann Instititue of Science published their findings in the Sept. 20 issue of the journal Neuron, published by Cell Press. Working with Deouell on the project were Aaron S. Heller of University of California, Berkeley; Prof. Rafael Malach of the Weizmann Institute of Science; and Prof. Mark D’Esposito and Prof. Robert T. Knight of the University of California, Berkeley

Studies by other researchers had shown that the planum temporale was activated when people were asked to perform tasks in which they located sounds in space. However, many researchers believed that the region was responsible only for intentional processing of such information. And, in fact, previous studies had failed to establish that the planum temporale was responsible for automatic, nonintentional representation of spatial location.

Previous research done by Dr. Deouell and others has shown that some patients with brain damage may be specifically impaired in this function. Understanding how the normal brain machinery for this function is organized may help to understand why it breaks down and eventually how to mend it.

In their work, Deouell and colleagues used an improved experimental design that enabled them to more sensitively determine the brain’s auditory spatial location center. For example, they presented their human subjects with sounds against a background of silence, used headphones that more accurately reproduced sound location, and used noise with a rich spectrum, which has been shown to be more readily locatable in space. They also used sounds recorded from microphones placed in each subject’s own ears, and then played the same sounds back, thus tailoring the sounds specifically to the subjects’ own head and ears.

In their experiments, they presented bursts of the noise to the volunteers wearing the headphones while the subjects’ brains were scanned by functional magnetic resonance imaging. In this widely used brain-scanning technique, harmless magnetic fields and radio waves are used to image blood flow in brain regions, which reflects brain activity in those locations.

The subjects were instructed to ignore the sounds. And, to divert their attention, they either watched a movie with the sound turned off or were given a simple button-pushing task.

When the position of the noise bursts was varied in space, the researchers found that the planum temporale in the subjects’ brain was, indeed, activated. What’s more, the greater the number of distinct sound locations subjects heard during test runs, the greater the activity in the planum temporale.

The researchers thus concluded that their experiments “suggest that neurons in this region represent, in a nonintentional or preattentive fashion, the location of sound sources in the environment.”

Jerry Barach | The Hebrew University of Jerusal
Further information:

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht Lego-like wall produces acoustic holograms
17.10.2016 | Duke University

nachricht New evidence on terrestrial and oceanic responses to climate change over last millennium
11.10.2016 | University of Granada

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>