Perceptual learning of tone patterns changes the effective connectivity between Heschl's gyrus and planum temporale

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Learning of complex auditory sequences such as music can be thought of as optimizing an internal model of regularities through unpredicted events (or “prediction errors”). We used dynamic causal modeling (DCM) and parametric empirical Bayes on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data to identify modulation of effective brain connectivity that takes place during perceptual learning of complex tone patterns. Our approach differs from previous studies in two aspects. First, we used a complex oddball paradigm based on tone patterns as opposed to simple deviant tones. Second, the use of fMRI allowed us to identify cortical regions with high spatial accuracy. These regions served as empirical regions‐of‐interest for the analysis of effective connectivity. Deviant patterns induced an increased blood oxygenation level‐dependent response, compared to standards, in early auditory (Heschl's gyrus [HG]) and association auditory areas (planum temporale [PT]) bilaterally. Within this network, we found a left‐lateralized increase in feedforward connectivity from HG to PT during deviant responses and an increase in excitation within left HG. In contrast to previous findings, we did not find frontal activity, nor did we find modulations of backward connections in response to oddball sounds. Our results suggest that complex auditory prediction errors are encoded by changes in feedforward and intrinsic connections, confined to superior temporal gyrus.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Pages (from-to)941-952
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • auditory cortex
  • DCM
  • effective connectivity
  • fMRI
  • perceptual learning
  • precision-weighting
  • predictive coding
  • superior temporal gyrus

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