Evaluating the columnar stability of acoustic processing in the human auditory cortex

Michelle Moerel, Federico De Martino, Kâmil Uğurbil, Elia Formisano, Essa Yacoub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Using ultra-high field fMRI, we explored the cortical depth-dependent stability of acoustic feature preference in human auditory cortex. We collected responses from human auditory cortex (subjects from either sex) to a large number of natural sounds at submillimeter spatial resolution, and observed that these responses were well explained by a model that assumes neuronal population tuning to frequency-specific spectrotemporal modulations. We observed a relatively stable (columnar) tuning to frequency and temporal modulations. However, spectral modulation tuning was variable throughout the cortical depth. This difference in columnar stability between feature maps could not be explained by a difference in map smoothness, as the preference along the cortical sheet varied in a similar manner for the different feature maps. Furthermore, tuning to all three features was more columnar in primary than nonprimary auditory cortex. The observed overall lack of overlapping columnar regions across acoustic feature maps suggests, especially for primary auditory cortex, a coding strategy in which across cortical depths tuning to some features is kept stable, whereas tuning to other features systematically varies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7822-7832
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number36
StatePublished - Sep 5 2018


  • Auditory cortex
  • Columnar processing
  • Spectrotemporal modulations
  • Tonotopy
  • Ultra-high field fMRI

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