Measures and models of top-down influences in the human auditory cortex

Jaakko Kauramäki

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


    Our senses rapidly adapt to the sensory information and task requirements. These short-term, plastic changes especially in the central nervous system are necessary for goal-directed and active behavior. Nevertheless, partly due to methodological limitations, the neural mechanisms underlying improved perception during selective attention are not well understood. For instance, human auditory cortex activity is enhanced while engaging in an auditory task, but whether such enhancement involves a larger-extend or a more specific response from a sharply tuned neuronal population remains vague. In addition to unimodal attention effects, our senses can influence each others' processing. Seeing a person articulate can both enhance and modify the perception of acoustic speech and even induce activation in the auditory areas. The goal of the Thesis was to study the neural basis of these auditory cortex modulations both due to selective attention and cross-modal interactions while lipreading. This Thesis consists of a series of four studies where the brain activity was recorded with electroencephalography (EEG) and its magnetic counterpart, magnetoencephalography (MEG). The results show that 1) evoked responses mainly from the secondary auditory areas were rapidly enhanced by a feature-specific manner during a discrimination task, where bottom-up and top-down processing were modified by stimulus and task design, 2) lipreading task suppressed auditory-cortex responses both generally and specifically in the case when sound was related to the articulatory gestures, and 3) lipreading and covert speech production tasks dynamically suppressed auditory cortex reactivity, possibly via an efference copy signal from the speech-production system. Together, these studies expand the knowledge on how the human auditory cortex function is modulated under top-down influence. The modulations due to selective attention and cross-modal interactions while lipreading are opposite at the level of evoked responses: selective attention enhances and lipreading suppresses the responses, but both effects can be feature-selective. The results show that the auditory system is highly dependent on the current task requirements, showing adaptive and goal-dependent functioning.
    Translated title of the contributionMittauksia ja malleja ihmisen kuuloaivokuoren top-down -vaikutuksista
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor's degree
    Awarding Institution
    • Aalto University
    • Sams, Mikko, Supervising Professor
    • Jääskeläinen, Iiro, Thesis Advisor
    Print ISBNs978-952-60-4619-8
    Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-4620-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


    • electroencephalography
    • magnetoencephalography
    • top-down
    • attention
    • lipreading
    • human brain
    • auditory system
    • perception

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