Sensory systems evolve to allow organisms to know the environment. Psychophysics research of everyday naturalistic sounds shows that audition enables us to get to know the objects in the environment, sound sources, based on the processing of multiple types of sound-related information. This project aims to integrate psychophysics and cognitive neuroscience methods in order to clarify: [Study1] what information drives the cortical processing of everyday naturalistic sounds; [S2] how cortical processes enable us to recognize sound sources. Each of these questions will be addressed within one multimodal fMRI/MEG study.
[S1] Studies of the cortical encoding of naturalistic sounds reveal a widespread sensitivity for sound categories. It is unclear the extent to which this sensitivity is mediated by systematic between-category differences in low-level acoustical structure and in higher-level semantic factors. We aim to clarify this issue within a study of highly diverse naturalistic sounds.
[S2] Previous cognitive neuroscience studies revealed cortical regions sensitive to the properties of the sound source (e.g. object size) or to its identity (e.g. speaker). The relationship between the cortical processing of source properties and identity is unclear, and the extent to which general cortical mechanisms mediate the representation of highly diverse sound sources is largely unknown. We aim to clarify these issues within a study of vocalizations and impacted-object sounds.
We will measure stimulus-information encoding in both activation- and pattern-based measures of the cortical activity (average BOLD vs. spatial BOLD distribution in a cortical volume; power vs. temporal pattern of windowed timecourse of MEG source). Results will answer open scientific questions and characterize in detail the anatomy and temporal dynamics of the cortical encoding of naturalistic sound information.
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