A common cortical substrate activated by horizontal and vertical sound movement in the human brain

Francesco Pavani, Emiliano Macaluso, Jason D. Warren, Jon Driver, Timothy D. Griffiths

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Perception of movement in acoustic space depends on comparison of the sound waveforms reaching the two ears (binaural cues) as well as spectrotemporal analysis of the waveform at each ear (monaural cues) [1]. The relative importance of these two cues is different for perception of vertical or horizontal motion, with spectrotemporal analysis likely to be more important for perceiving vertical shifts. In humans, functional imaging studies have shown that sound movement in the horizontal plane activates brain areas distinct from the primary auditory cortex, in parietal and frontal lobes [2-7] and in the planum temporale [6, 8]. However, no previous work has examined activations for vertical sound movement. It is therefore difficult to generalize previous imaging studies, based on horizontal movement only, to multidimensional auditory space perception. Using externalized virtual-space sounds in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) paradigm to investigate this, we compared vertical and horizontal shifts in sound location. A common bilateral network of brain areas was activated in response to both horizontal and vertical sound movement. This included the planum temporale, superior parietal cortex, and premotor cortex. Sounds perceived laterally in virtual space were associated with contralateral activation of the auditory cortex. These results demonstrate that sound movement in vertical and horizontal dimensions engages a common processing network in the human cerebral cortex and show that multidimensional spatial properties of sounds are processed at this level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1584-1590
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - Sep 17 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'A common cortical substrate activated by horizontal and vertical sound movement in the human brain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this