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Journal Article

Steady-state responses to concurrent melodies: source distribution, top-down, and bottom-up attention


Ullén,  Fredrik       
Department of Cognitive Neuropsychology, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society;
Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet ;

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Manting, C. L., Gulyas, B., Ullén, F., & Lundqvist, D. (2022). Steady-state responses to concurrent melodies: source distribution, top-down, and bottom-up attention. Cerebral Cortex, bhac260. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhac260.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000A-D71E-3
Humans can direct attentional resources to a single sound occurring simultaneously among others to extract the most behaviourally relevant information present. To investigate this cognitive phenomenon in a precise manner, we used frequency-tagging to separate neural auditory steady-state responses (ASSRs) that can be traced back to each auditory stimulus, from the neural mix elicited by multiple simultaneous sounds. Using a mixture of 2 frequency-tagged melody streams, we instructed participants to selectively attend to one stream or the other while following the development of the pitch contour. Bottom-up attention towards either stream was also manipulated with salient changes in pitch. Distributed source analyses of magnetoencephalography measurements showed that the effect of ASSR enhancement from top-down driven attention was strongest at the left frontal cortex, while that of bottom-up driven attention was dominant at the right temporal cortex. Furthermore, the degree of ASSR suppression from simultaneous stimuli varied across cortical lobes and hemisphere. The ASSR source distribution changes from temporal-dominance during single-stream perception, to proportionally more activity in the frontal and centro-parietal cortical regions when listening to simultaneous streams. These findings are a step forward to studying cognition in more complex and naturalistic soundscapes using frequency-tagging.