Experience–dependent modulation of tonotopic neural responses in human auditory cortex

J.S. Morris, K.J. Friston, R.J. Dolan


Experience–dependent plasticity of receptive fields in the auditory cortex has been demonstrated by electrophysiological experiments in animals. In the present study we used PET neuroimaging to measure regional brain activity in volunteer human subjects during discriminatory classical conditioning of high (8000 Hz) or low (200 Hz) frequency tones by an aversive 100 dB white noise burst. Conditioning–related, frequency–specific modulation of tonotopic neural responses in the auditory cortex was observed. The modulated regions of the auditory cortex positively covaried with activity in the amygdala, basal forebrain and orbitofrontal cortex, and showed context–specific functional interactions with the medial geniculate nucleus. These results accord with animal single–unit data and support neurobiological models of auditory conditioning and value–dependent neural selection.

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