Richter, N., Schröger, E., & Rübsamen, R. (2013). Differences in evoked potentials during the active processing of sound location and motion. Neuropsychologia, 51(7), 1204-1214.

Differences in evoked potentials during the active processing of sound location and motion

Difference in the processing of motion and static sounds in the human cortex was studied by electroencephalography with subjects performing an active discrimination task. Sound bursts were presented in the acoustic free-field between 47 degrees to the left and 47 degrees to the right under three different stimulus conditions: (i) static, (ii) leftward motion, and (iii) rightward motion. In an active oddball design, subject was asked to detect target stimuli which were randomly embedded within a stream of frequently occurring non-target events (i.e. 'standards') and rare non-target stimuli (i.e. 'deviants'). The respective acoustic stimuli were presented in blocks with each stimulus type presented in either of three stimulus conditions: as target, as non-target, or as standard. The analysis focussed on the event related potentials evoked by the different stimulus types under the respective standard condition. Same as in previous studies, all three different acoustic stimuli elicited the obligatory P1/N1/P2 complex in the range of 50-200ms. However, comparisons of ERPs elicited by static stimuli and both kinds of motion stimuli yielded differences as early as approximately 100ms after stimulus-onset, i.e. at the level of the exogenous N1 and P2 components. Differences in signal amplitudes were also found in a time window 300-400ms ('d300-400ms' component in 'motion-minus-static' difference wave). For motion stimuli, the N1 amplitudes were larger over the hemisphere contralateral to the origin of motion, while for static stimuli N1 amplitudes over both hemispheres were in the same range. Contrary to the N1 component, the ERP in the 'd300-400ms' time period showed stronger responses over the hemisphere contralateral to motion termination, with the static stimuli again yielding equal bilateral amplitudes. For the P2 component a motion-specific effect with larger signal amplitudes over the left hemisphere was found compared to static stimuli. The presently documented N1 components comply with the results of previous studies on auditory space processing and suggest a contralateral dominance during the process of cortical integration of spatial acoustic information. Additionally, the cortical activity in the 'd300-400ms' time period indicates, that in addition to the motion origin (as reflected by the N1) also the direction of motion (leftward/ rightward motion) or rather motion termination is cortically encoded. These electrophysiological results are in accordance with the 'snap shot' hypothesis, assuming that auditory motion processing is not based on a genuine motion-sensitive system, but rather on a comparison process of spatial positions of motion origin (onset) and motion termination (offset). Still, specificities of the present P2 component provides evidence for additional motion-specific processes possibly associated with the evaluation of motion-specific attributes, i.e. motion direction and/or velocity which is preponderant in the left hemisphere.


Cognitive and Biological Psychology

University of Leipzig
Faculty of Life Sciences
Institute of Psychology
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Dagmar Schrödl
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Email: dagmar dot schroedl at uni-leipzig dot de

Dorit Thieme
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