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Cortical responses to changes in acoustic regularity are differentially modulated by attentional load


Chait, Maria; Ruff, Christian C; Griffiths, Timothy D; McAlpine, David (2012). Cortical responses to changes in acoustic regularity are differentially modulated by attentional load. NeuroImage, 59(2):1932-1941.

Abstract

This study investigates how acoustic change-events are represented in a listener's brain when attention is strongly focused elsewhere. Using magneto-encephalography (MEG) we examine whether cortical responses to different kinds of changes in stimulus statistics are similarly influenced by attentional load, and whether the processing of such acoustic changes in auditory cortex depends on modality-specific or general processing resources. We investigated these issues by examining cortical responses to two basic forms of acoustic transitions: (1) Violations of a simple acoustic pattern and (2) the emergence of a regular pattern from a random one. To simulate a complex sensory environment, these patterns were presented concurrently with streams of auditory and visual decoys. Listeners were required to perform tasks of high- and low-attentional-load in these domains. Results demonstrate that while auditory attentional-load does not influence the cortical representation of simple violations of regularity, it significantly reduces the magnitude of responses to the emergence of a regular acoustic pattern, suggesting a fundamentally skewed representation of the unattended auditory scene. In contrast, visual attentional-load had no effect on either transition response, consistent with the hypothesis that processing resources necessary for change detection are modality-specific.

This study investigates how acoustic change-events are represented in a listener's brain when attention is strongly focused elsewhere. Using magneto-encephalography (MEG) we examine whether cortical responses to different kinds of changes in stimulus statistics are similarly influenced by attentional load, and whether the processing of such acoustic changes in auditory cortex depends on modality-specific or general processing resources. We investigated these issues by examining cortical responses to two basic forms of acoustic transitions: (1) Violations of a simple acoustic pattern and (2) the emergence of a regular pattern from a random one. To simulate a complex sensory environment, these patterns were presented concurrently with streams of auditory and visual decoys. Listeners were required to perform tasks of high- and low-attentional-load in these domains. Results demonstrate that while auditory attentional-load does not influence the cortical representation of simple violations of regularity, it significantly reduces the magnitude of responses to the emergence of a regular acoustic pattern, suggesting a fundamentally skewed representation of the unattended auditory scene. In contrast, visual attentional-load had no effect on either transition response, consistent with the hypothesis that processing resources necessary for change detection are modality-specific.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
08 University Research Priority Programs > Foundations of Human Social Behavior: Altruism and Egoism
Dewey Decimal Classification:170 Ethics
330 Economics
Language:English
Date:16 January 2012
Deposited On:28 Mar 2012 10:46
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:45
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1053-8119 (P) 1095-9572 (E)
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.09.006
PubMed ID:21945789
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-61453

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