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The spatio-temporal brain dynamics of processing and integrating sound localization cues in humans

Brain Research
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2006.03.095
  • Electroencephalography (Eeg)
  • Auditory-Evoked Potential (Aep)
  • Electrical Brain Imaging Spatial Interaural Time Difference (Itd)
  • Interaural Intensity Difference (Iid)
  • Biology
  • Physics


Abstract Interaural intensity and time differences (IID and ITD) are two binaural auditory cues for localizing sounds in space. This study investigated the spatio-temporal brain mechanisms for processing and integrating IID and ITD cues in humans. Auditory-evoked potentials were recorded, while subjects passively listened to noise bursts lateralized with IID, ITD or both cues simultaneously, as well as a more frequent centrally presented noise. In a separate psychophysical experiment, subjects actively discriminated lateralized from centrally presented stimuli. IID and ITD cues elicited different electric field topographies starting at ∼ 75 ms post-stimulus onset, indicative of the engagement of distinct cortical networks. By contrast, no performance differences were observed between IID and ITD cues during the psychophysical experiment. Subjects did, however, respond significantly faster and more accurately when both cues were presented simultaneously. This performance facilitation exceeded predictions from probability summation, suggestive of interactions in neural processing of IID and ITD cues. Supra-additive neural response interactions as well as topographic modulations were indeed observed ∼ 200 ms post-stimulus for the comparison of responses to the simultaneous presentation of both cues with the mean of those to separate IID and ITD cues. Source estimations revealed differential processing of IID and ITD cues initially within superior temporal cortices and also at later stages within temporo-parietal and inferior frontal cortices. Differences were principally in terms of hemispheric lateralization. The collective psychophysical and electrophysiological results support the hypothesis that IID and ITD cues are processed by distinct, but interacting, cortical networks that can in turn facilitate auditory localization.

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