Modularity of auditory spatial representations


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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Modularity of auditory spatial representations
Spierer L.
Clarke S.
Institution details
Université de Lausanne, Faculté de biologie et médecine
Faculté de biologie et de médecine Université de Lausanne UNIL - Bugnon Rue du Bugnon 21 - bureau 4111 CH-1015 Lausanne SUISSE
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REROID:R004855868 ill.
Abstract :
Auditory spatial functions are of crucial importance in everyday life. Determining the origin of sound sources in space plays a key role in a variety of tasks including orientation of attention, disentangling of complex acoustic patterns reaching our ears in noisy environments. Following brain damage, auditory spatial processing can be disrupted, resulting in severe handicaps. Complaints of patients with sound localization deficits include the inability to locate their crying child or being over-loaded by sounds in crowded public places. Yet, the brain bears a large capacity for reorganization following damage and/or learning. This phenomenon is referred as plasticity and is believed to underlie post-lesional functional recovery as well as learning-induced improvement. The aim of this thesis was to investigate the organization and plasticity of different aspects of auditory spatial functions. Overall, we report the outcomes of three studies:
In the study entitled "Learning-induced plasticity in auditory spatial representations" (Spierer et al., 2007b), we focused on the neurophysiological and behavioral changes induced by auditory spatial training in healthy subjects. We found that relatively brief auditory spatial discrimination training improves performance and modifies the cortical representation of the trained sound locations, suggesting that cortical auditory representations of space are dynamic and subject to rapid reorganization. In the same study, we tested the generalization and persistence of training effects over time, as these are two determining factors in the development of neurorehabilitative intervention.
In "The path to success in auditory spatial discrimination" (Spierer et al., 2007c), we investigated the neurophysiological correlates of successful spatial discrimination and contribute to the modeling of the anatomo-functional organization of auditory spatial processing in healthy subjects. We showed that discrimination accuracy depends on superior temporal plane (STP) activity in response to the first sound of a pair of stimuli. Our data support a model wherein refinement of spatial representations occurs within the STP and that interactions with parietal structures allow for transformations into coordinate frames that are required for higher-order computations including absolute localization of sound sources.
In "Extinction of auditory stimuli in hemineglect: space versus ear" (Spierer et al., 2007a), we investigated auditory attentional deficits in brain-damaged patients. This work provides insight into the auditory neglect syndrome and its relation with neglect symptoms within the visual modality.
Apart from contributing to a basic understanding of the cortical mechanisms underlying auditory spatial functions, the outcomes of the studies also contribute to develop neurorehabilitation strategies, which are currently being tested in clinical populations.
Create date
24/06/2010 9:49
Last modification date
20/08/2019 12:25
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