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Sensitivity of brain center for 'sound space' defined
Date:9/20/2007

While the visual regions of the brain have been intensively mapped, many important regions for auditory processing remain uncharted territory. Now, researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and elsewhere have identified a region responsible for a key auditory process perceiving sound space, the location of sounds, even when the listener is not concentrating on those sounds.

The findings settle a controversy in earlier studies that failed to establish the auditory region, called the planum temporale, as responsible for perception of auditory space by default.

The researchers, led by Dr. Leon Y. Deouell, of the Psychology Department and the Interdisciplinary Center for Neural Computation of the Hebrew University, and colleagues from the University of California, Berkeley, and the Weizmann Instititue of Science published their findings in the Sept. 20 issue of the journal Neuron, published by Cell Press. Working with Deouell on the project were Aaron S. Heller of University of California, Berkeley; Prof. Rafael Malach of the Weizmann Institute of Science; and Prof. Mark DEsposito and Prof. Robert T. Knight of the University of California, Berkeley

Studies by other researchers had shown that the planum temporale was activated when people were asked to perform tasks in which they located sounds in space. However, many researchers believed that the region was responsible only for intentional processing of such information. And, in fact, previous studies had failed to establish that the planum temporale was responsible for automatic, nonintentional representation of spatial location.

Previous research done by Dr. Deouell and others has shown that some patients with brain damage may be specifically impaired in this function. Understanding how the normal brain machinery for this function is organized may help to understand why it breaks down and eventually how to mend it.

In their work, Deouell and colleagues use
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Contact: Jerry Barach
jerryb@savioin.huji.ac.il
972-258-82904
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Source:Eurekalert

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