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
Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs
07.11.2017 | Technische Universität München
NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies
20.10.2017 | Naval Research Laboratory
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.11.2017 | Materials Sciences
21.11.2017 | Health and Medicine