Attention improves population-level frequency tuning in human auditory cortex

Institute for Biomagnetism and Biosignalanalysis, University Hospital, University of Muenster, 48149 Muenster, Germany.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 6.75). 10/2007; 27(39):10383-90. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2963-07.2007
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Attention improves auditory performance in noisy environments by either enhancing the processing of task-relevant stimuli ("gain"), suppressing task-irrelevant information ("sharpening"), or both. In the present study, we investigated the effect of focused auditory attention on the population-level frequency tuning in human auditory cortex by means of magnetoencephalography. Using complex stimuli consisting of a test tone superimposed on different band-eliminated noises during active listening or distracted listening conditions, we observed that focused auditory attention caused not only gain, but also sharpening of frequency tuning in human auditory cortex as reflected by the N1m auditory evoked response. This combination of gain and sharpening in the auditory cortex may contribute to better auditory performance during focused auditory attention.

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