This magnetoencephalography (MEG) study investigated evoked ON and OFF responses to ramped and damped sounds in normal-hearing human adults. Two pairs of stimuli that differed in spectral complexity were used in a passive listening task; each pair contained identical acoustical properties except for the intensity envelope. Behavioral duration judgment was conducted in separate sessions, which replicated the perceptual bias in favour of the ramped sounds and the effect of spectral complexity on perceived duration asymmetry. MEG results showed similar cortical sites for the ON and OFF responses. There was a dominant ON response with stronger phase-locking factor (PLF) in the alpha (8–14 Hz) and theta (4–8 Hz) bands for the damped sounds. In contrast, the OFF response for sounds with rising intensity was associated with stronger PLF in the gamma band (30–70 Hz). Exploratory correlation analysis showed that the OFF response in the left auditory cortex was a good predictor of the perceived temporal asymmetry for the spectrally simpler pair. The results indicate distinct asymmetry in ON and OFF responses and neural oscillation patterns associated with the dynamic intensity changes, which provides important preliminary data for future studies to examine how the auditory system develops such an asymmetry as a function of age and learning experience and whether the absence of asymmetry or abnormal ON and OFF responses can be taken as a biomarker for certain neurological conditions associated with auditory processing deficits.
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