Article: article from journal or magazin.
From bird to sparrow: Learning-induced modulations in fine-grained semantic discrimination.
Publication types: Journal Article ; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Publication Status: ppublish
Publication Status: ppublish
Recognition of environmental sounds is believed to proceed through discrimination steps from broad to more narrow categories. Very little is known about the neural processes that underlie fine-grained discrimination within narrow categories or about their plasticity in relation to newly acquired expertise. We investigated how the cortical representation of birdsongs is modulated by brief training to recognize individual species. During a 60-minute session, participants learned to recognize a set of birdsongs; they improved significantly their performance for trained (T) but not control species (C), which were counterbalanced across participants. Auditory evoked potentials (AEPs) were recorded during pre- and post-training sessions. Pre vs. post changes in AEPs were significantly different between T and C i) at 206-232ms post stimulus onset within a cluster on the anterior part of the left superior temporal gyrus; ii) at 246-291ms in the left middle frontal gyrus; and iii) 512-545ms in the left middle temporal gyrus as well as bilaterally in the cingulate cortex. All effects were driven by weaker activity for T than C species. Thus, expertise in discriminating T species modulated early stages of semantic processing, during and immediately after the time window that sustains the discrimination between human vs. animal vocalizations. Moreover, the training-induced plasticity is reflected by the sharpening of a left lateralized semantic network, including the anterior part of the temporal convexity and the frontal cortex. Training to identify birdsongs influenced, however, also the processing of C species, but at a much later stage. Correct discrimination of untrained sounds seems to require an additional step which results from lower-level features analysis such as apperception. We therefore suggest that the access to objects within an auditory semantic category is different and depends on subject's level of expertise. More specifically, correct intra-categorical auditory discrimination for untrained items follows the temporal hierarchy and transpires in a late stage of semantic processing. On the other hand, correct categorization of individually trained stimuli occurs earlier, during a period contemporaneous with human vs. animal vocalization discrimination, and involves a parallel semantic pathway requiring expertise.
Acoustic Stimulation, Adult, Animals, Auditory Perception/physiology, Cerebral Cortex/physiology, Discrimination (Psychology)/physiology, Electroencephalography, Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Female, Frontal Lobe/physiology, Gyrus Cinguli/physiology, Humans, Learning/physiology, Male, Pattern Recognition, Physiological/physiology, Semantics, Temporal Lobe/physiology, Vocalization, Animal, Young Adult
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