Source analysis of event-related potentials during pitch discrimination and pitch memory tasks

Suvi Talja, Kimmo Alho, Teemu Rinne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Our previous studies using fMRI have demonstrated that activations in human auditory cortex (AC) are strongly dependent on the characteristics of the task. The present study tested whether source estimation of scalp-recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) can be used to investigate task-dependent AC activations. Subjects were presented with frequency-varying two-part tones during pitch discrimination, pitch n-back memory, and visual tasks identical to our previous fMRI study (Rinne et al., J Neurosci 29:13338-13343, 2009). ERPs and their minimum-norm source estimates in AC were strongly modulated by task at 200-700 ms from tone onset. As in the fMRI study, the pitch discrimination and pitch memory tasks were associated with distinct AC activation patterns. In the pitch discrimination task, increased activity in the anterior AC was detected relatively late at 300-700 ms from tone onset. Therefore, this activity was probably not associated with enhanced pitch processing but rather with the actual discrimination process (comparison between the two parts of tone). Increased activity in more posterior areas associated with the pitch memory task, in turn, occurred at 200-700 ms suggesting that this activity was related to operations on pitch categories after pitch analysis was completed. Finally, decreased activity associated with the pitch memory task occurred at 150-300 ms consistent with the notion that, in the demanding pitch memory task, spectrotemporal analysis is actively halted as soon as category information has been obtained. These results demonstrate that ERP source analysis can be used to complement fMRI to investigate task-dependent activations of human AC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-458
Number of pages14
JournalBrain Topography
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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