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Temporal integration of sequential auditory events: silent period in sound pattern activates human planum temporale


Scheffler,  K
Department High-Field Magnetic Resonance, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Mustovic, H., Scheffler, K., di Salle F, Esposito F, Neuhoff JG, Hennig, J., & Seifritz, E. (2003). Temporal integration of sequential auditory events: silent period in sound pattern activates human planum temporale. NeuroImage, 20(1), 429-434. doi:10.1016/S1053-8119(03)00293-3.

Temporal integration is a fundamental process that the brain carries out to construct coherent percepts from serial sensory events. This process critically depends on the formation of memory traces reconciling past with present events and is particularly important in the auditory domain where sensory information is received both serially and in parallel. It has been suggested that buffers for transient auditory memory traces reside in the auditory cortex. However, previous studies investigating “echoic memory” did not distinguish between brain response to novel auditory stimulus characteristics on the level of basic sound processing and a higher level involving matching of present with stored information. Here we used functional magnetic resonance imaging in combination with a regular pattern of sounds repeated every 100 ms and deviant interspersed stimuli of 100-ms duration, which were either brief presentations of louder sounds or brief periods of silence, to probe the formation of auditory memory traces. To avoid interaction with scanner noise, the auditory stimulation sequence was implemented into the image acquisition scheme. Compared to increased loudness events, silent periods produced specific neural activation in the right planum temporale and temporoparietal junction. Our findings suggest that this area posterior to the auditory cortex plays a critical role in integrating sequential auditory events and is involved in the formation of short-term auditory memory traces. This function of the planum temporale appears to be fundamental in the segregation of simultaneous sound sources.