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Circuits in the auditory cortex are highly susceptible to acoustic influences during an early postnatal critical period. The auditory cortex selectively expands neural representations of enriched acoustic stimuli, a process important for human language acquisition. Adults lack this plasticity. Here we show in the murine auditory cortex that juvenile plasticity can be reestablished in adulthood if acoustic stimuli are paired with disruption of ecto-5'-nucleotidase-dependent adenosine production or A-adenosine receptor signaling in the auditory thalamus. This plasticity occurs at the level of cortical maps and individual neurons in the auditory cortex of awake adult mice and is associated with long-term improvement of tone-discrimination abilities. We conclude that, in adult mice, disrupting adenosine signaling in the thalamus rejuvenates plasticity in the auditory cortex and improves auditory perception.
Copyright © 2017 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.
Altered sensory processing is observed in many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), with growing evidence that these impairments extend to the integration of information across the different senses (that is, multisensory function). The serotonin system has an important role in sensory development and function, and alterations of serotonergic signaling have been suggested to have a role in ASD. A gain-of-function coding variant in the serotonin transporter (SERT) associates with sensory aversion in humans, and when expressed in mice produces traits associated with ASD, including disruptions in social and communicative function and repetitive behaviors. The current study set out to test whether these mice also exhibit changes in multisensory function when compared with wild-type (WT) animals on the same genetic background. Mice were trained to respond to auditory and visual stimuli independently before being tested under visual, auditory and paired audiovisual (multisensory) conditions. WT mice exhibited significant gains in response accuracy under audiovisual conditions. In contrast, although the SERT mutant animals learned the auditory and visual tasks comparably to WT littermates, they failed to show behavioral gains under multisensory conditions. We believe these results provide the first behavioral evidence of multisensory deficits in a genetic mouse model related to ASD and implicate the serotonin system in multisensory processing and in the multisensory changes seen in ASD.
A growing area of interest and relevance in the study of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) focuses on the relationship between multisensory temporal function and the behavioral, perceptual, and cognitive impairments observed in ASD. Atypical sensory processing is becoming increasingly recognized as a core component of autism, with evidence of atypical processing across a number of sensory modalities. These deviations from typical processing underscore the value of interpreting ASD within a multisensory framework. Furthermore, converging evidence illustrates that these differences in audiovisual processing may be specifically related to temporal processing. This review seeks to bridge the connection between temporal processing and audiovisual perception, and to elaborate on emerging data showing differences in audiovisual temporal function in autism. We also discuss the consequence of such changes, the specific impact on the processing of different classes of audiovisual stimuli (e.g. speech vs. nonspeech, etc.), and the presumptive brain processes and networks underlying audiovisual temporal integration. Finally, possible downstream behavioral implications, and possible remediation strategies are outlined. Autism Res 2016, 9: 720-738. © 2015 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
© 2015 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
In addition to impairments in social communication and the presence of restricted interests and repetitive behaviors, deficits in sensory processing are now recognized as a core symptom in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Our ability to perceive and interact with the external world is rooted in sensory processing. For example, listening to a conversation entails processing the auditory cues coming from the speaker (speech content, prosody, syntax) as well as the associated visual information (facial expressions, gestures). Collectively, the "integration" of these multisensory (i.e., combined audiovisual) pieces of information results in better comprehension. Such multisensory integration has been shown to be strongly dependent upon the temporal relationship of the paired stimuli. Thus, stimuli that occur in close temporal proximity are highly likely to result in behavioral and perceptual benefits--gains believed to be reflective of the perceptual system's judgment of the likelihood that these two stimuli came from the same source. Changes in this temporal integration are expected to strongly alter perceptual processes, and are likely to diminish the ability to accurately perceive and interact with our world. Here, a battery of tasks designed to characterize various aspects of sensory and multisensory temporal processing in children with ASD is described. In addition to its utility in autism, this battery has great potential for characterizing changes in sensory function in other clinical populations, as well as being used to examine changes in these processes across the lifespan.
The superior temporal gyrus (STG) is on the inferior-lateral brain surface near the external ear. In macaques, 2/3 of the STG is occupied by an auditory cortical region, the "parabelt," which is part of a network of inferior temporal areas subserving communication and social cognition as well as object recognition and other functions. However, due to its location beneath the squamous temporal bone and temporalis muscle, the STG, like other inferior temporal regions, has been a challenging target for physiological studies in awake-behaving macaques. We designed a new procedure for implanting recording chambers to provide direct access to the STG, allowing us to evaluate neuronal properties and their topography across the full extent of the STG in awake-behaving macaques. Initial surveys of the STG have yielded several new findings. Unexpectedly, STG sites in monkeys that were listening passively responded to tones with magnitudes comparable to those of responses to 1/3 octave band-pass noise. Mapping results showed longer response latencies in more rostral sites and possible tonotopic patterns parallel to core and belt areas, suggesting the reversal of gradients between caudal and rostral parabelt areas. These results will help further exploration of parabelt areas.
Copyright © 2015 the authors 0270-6474/15/354140-11$15.00/0.
Neuronal oscillations present potential physiological substrates for brain operations that require temporal prediction. We review this idea in the context of auditory perception. Using speech as an exemplar, we illustrate how hierarchically organized oscillations can be used to parse and encode complex input streams. We then consider the motor system as a major source of rhythms (temporal priors) in auditory processing, that act in concert with attention to sharpen sensory representations and link them across areas. We discuss the circuits that could mediate this audio-motor interaction, notably the potential role of the somatosensory system. Finally, we reposition temporal predictions in the context of internal models, discussing how they interact with feature-based or spatial predictions. We argue that complementary predictions interact synergistically according to the organizational principles of each sensory system, forming multidimensional filters crucial to perception.
Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Music has always played a central role in human culture. The question of how musical sounds can have such profound emotional and rewarding effects has been a topic of interest throughout generations. At a fundamental level, listening to music involves tracking a series of sound events over time. Because humans are experts in pattern recognition, temporal predictions are constantly generated, creating a sense of anticipation. We summarize how complex cognitive abilities and cortical processes integrate with fundamental subcortical reward and motivation systems in the brain to give rise to musical pleasure. This work builds on previous theoretical models that emphasize the role of prediction in music appreciation by integrating these ideas with recent neuroscientific evidence.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Over the next 2 decades, a dramatic shift in the demographics of society will take place, with a rapid growth in the population of older adults. One of the most common complaints with healthy aging is a decreased ability to successfully perceive speech, particularly in noisy environments. In such noisy environments, the presence of visual speech cues (i.e., lip movements) provide striking benefits for speech perception and comprehension, but previous research suggests that older adults gain less from such audiovisual integration than their younger peers. To determine at what processing level these behavioral differences arise in healthy-aging populations, we administered a speech-in-noise task to younger and older adults. We compared the perceptual benefits of having speech information available in both the auditory and visual modalities and examined both phoneme and whole-word recognition across varying levels of signal-to-noise ratio. For whole-word recognition, older adults relative to younger adults showed greater multisensory gains at intermediate SNRs but reduced benefit at low SNRs. By contrast, at the phoneme level both younger and older adults showed approximately equivalent increases in multisensory gain as signal-to-noise ratio decreased. Collectively, the results provide important insights into both the similarities and differences in how older and younger adults integrate auditory and visual speech cues in noisy environments and help explain some of the conflicting findings in previous studies of multisensory speech perception in healthy aging. These novel findings suggest that audiovisual processing is intact at more elementary levels of speech perception in healthy-aging populations and that deficits begin to emerge only at the more complex word-recognition level of speech signals.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Behavior, perception and cognition are strongly shaped by the synthesis of information across the different sensory modalities. Such multisensory integration often results in performance and perceptual benefits that reflect the additional information conferred by having cues from multiple senses providing redundant or complementary information. The spatial and temporal relationships of these cues provide powerful statistical information about how these cues should be integrated or "bound" in order to create a unified perceptual representation. Much recent work has examined the temporal factors that are integral in multisensory processing, with many focused on the construct of the multisensory temporal binding window - the epoch of time within which stimuli from different modalities is likely to be integrated and perceptually bound. Emerging evidence suggests that this temporal window is altered in a series of neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism, dyslexia and schizophrenia. In addition to their role in sensory processing, these deficits in multisensory temporal function may play an important role in the perceptual and cognitive weaknesses that characterize these clinical disorders. Within this context, focus on improving the acuity of multisensory temporal function may have important implications for the amelioration of the "higher-order" deficits that serve as the defining features of these disorders.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) exhibit alterations in sensory processing, including changes in the integration of information across the different sensory modalities. In the current study, we used the sound-induced flash illusion to assess multisensory integration in children with ASD and typically-developing (TD) controls. Thirty-one children with ASD and 31 age and IQ matched TD children (average age = 12 years) were presented with simple visual (i.e., flash) and auditory (i.e., beep) stimuli of varying number. In illusory conditions, a single flash was presented with 2-4 beeps. In TD children, these conditions generally result in the perception of multiple flashes, implying a perceptual fusion across vision and audition. In the present study, children with ASD were significantly less likely to perceive the illusion relative to TD controls, suggesting that multisensory integration and cross-modal binding may be weaker in some children with ASD. These results are discussed in the context of previous findings for multisensory integration in ASD and future directions for research.