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Publication Detail
Egocentric and Allocentric Representations in Auditory Cortex
  • Publication Type:
    Working discussion paper
  • Authors:
    Town S, Brimijoin O, Bizley J
  • Publication date:
    05/01/2017
  • Status:
    Published
Abstract
A key function of the brain is to provide a stable representation of an object’s location in the world. In hearing, sound azimuth and elevation are encoded by neurons throughout the auditory system and auditory cortex is necessary for sound localization. However the coordinate frame in which neurons represent sound space remains undefined: classical spatial receptive fields in head-fixed subjects can be explained either by sensitivity to sound source location relative to the head (egocentric) or relative to the world (allocentric encoding). This coordinate frame ambiguity can be resolved by studying freely moving subjects and here we recorded spatial receptive fields in auditory cortex freely moving ferrets. We found two distinct populations of neurons: While the majority (∼80%) of spatially tuned neurons represented sound source location relative to the head, we provide novel evidence for a group of neurons in which space was represented in an allocentric world-centered coordinate frame. We also use our ability to measure spatial tuning in moving subjects to explore the influence of sound source distance and speed of head movements on auditory cortical activity and spatial tuning. Modulation depth of spatial tuning increased with distance for egocentric but not allocentric units, whereas for both populations modulation was stronger at faster movement speeds. Our findings argue that auditory cortex is involved in the representation of both sound source location relative to ourselves and sound location in the world independent of our own position.
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