Ultra-fine frequency tuning revealed in single neurons of human auditory cortex

Y. Bitterman, R. Mukamel, R. Malach, I. Fried*, I. Nelken

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations

Abstract

Just-noticeable differences of physical parameters are often limited by the resolution of the peripheral sensory apparatus. Thus, two-point discrimination in vision is limited by the size of individual photoreceptors. Frequency selectivity is a basic property of neurons in the mammalian auditory pathway. However, just-noticeable differences of frequency are substantially smaller than the bandwidth of the peripheral sensors. Here we report that frequency tuning in single neurons recorded from human auditory cortex in response to random-chord stimuli is far narrower than that typically described in any other mammalian species (besides bats), and substantially exceeds that attributed to the human auditory periphery. Interestingly, simple spectral filter models failed to predict the neuronal responses to natural stimuli, including speech and music. Thus, natural sounds engage additional processing mechanisms beyond the exquisite frequency tuning probed by the random-chord stimuli.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)197-201
Number of pages5
JournalNature
Volume451
Issue number7175
DOIs
StatePublished - 10 Jan 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements We thank the patients for their cooperation in participating in the experiments. We thank E. Behnke, T. A. Fields, E. Ho and C. Wilson for technical assistance. This work was supported by an ISF grant (to I.N.), a NINDS grant (to I.F.), the US-Israel BSF fund (R.M. and I.F.) and a European Molecular Biology Organization and Human Frontier Science Program fellowship (R.M.).

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