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Attentional modulation of the auditory steady-state response across the cortex

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  • Cassia Low Manting, Karolinska Institutet, Nanyang Technological University
  • ,
  • Lau M. Andersen
  • Balazs Gulyas, Nanyang Technological University, Karolinska Institutet
  • ,
  • Fredrik Ullén, Karolinska Institutet
  • ,
  • Daniel Lundqvist, Karolinska Institutet

Selective auditory attention allows us to focus on relevant sounds within noisy or complex auditory environments, and is essential for the processing of speech and music. The auditory steady-state response (ASSR) has been proposed as a neural measure for tracking selective auditory attention, even within continuous and complex soundscapes. However, the current literature is inconsistent on how the ASSR is influenced by selective attention, with findings based primarily on attention being directed to either ear rather than to sound content. In this experiment, a mixture of melody streams was presented to both ears identically (diotically) as we examined if selective auditory attention to sound content influences the ASSR. Using magnetoencephalography (MEG), we assessed the stream-specific ASSRs from three frequency-tagged melody streams when attention was directed between each melody stream, based on their respective pitch and timing. Our main results showed that selective attention enhances the ASSR power of an attended melody stream by 14% at a general sensor level. This ability to readily capture attentional changes in a stimuli-precise manner makes the ASSR a useful tool for studying selective auditory attention, especially in complex auditory environments. As a secondary aim, we explored the distribution of cortical ASSR sources and their respective attentional modulation using a distributed source model of the ASSR activity. Notably, we uncovered the existence of ASSR attentional modulation outside the temporal cortices. Across-subject averages of the attentional enhancement over the cortical surface suggest that frontal regions show up to ~80% enhancement, while temporal and parietal cortices were enhanced by 20–25%. Importantly, this work advocates a novel ‘beyond the temporal cortex’ perspective on ASSR modulation and also serves as a template for future studies to precisely pin-point which cortical sites are more susceptible to ASSR attentional modulation.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummer116930
TidsskriftNeuroImage
Vol/bind217
ISSN1053-8119
DOI
StatusUdgivet - aug. 2020

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