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Frequency preference and attention effects across cortical depths in the human primary auditory cortex

Publication year 2015
Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Authors Federico De Martino, Michelle Moerel, Kamil Ugurbil, R. Goebel, Essa Yacoub, Elia Formisano

Columnar arrangements of neurons with similar preference have been suggested as the fundamental processing units of the cerebral cortex. Within these columnar arrangements, feed-forward information enters at middle cortical layers whereas feedback information arrives at superficial and deep layers. This interplay of feed-forward and feedback processing is at the core of perception and behavior. Here we provide in vivo evidence consistent with a columnar organization of the processing of sound frequency in the human auditory cortex. We measure submillimeter functional responses to sound frequency sweeps at high magnetic fields (7 tesla) and show that frequency preference is stable through cortical depth in primary auditory cortex. Furthermore, we demonstrate that-in this highly columnar cortex-task demands sharpen the frequency tuning in superficial cortical layers more than in middle or deep layers. These findings are pivotal to understanding mechanisms of neural information processing and flow during the active perception of sounds.

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