1. Neuroscience
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Temporal selectivity declines in the aging human auditory cortex

  1. Julia Erb  Is a corresponding author
  2. Lea-Maria Schmitt
  3. Jonas Obleser
  1. University of Lübeck, Germany
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2020;9:e55300 doi: 10.7554/eLife.55300

Abstract

Current models successfully describe the auditory cortical response to natural sounds with a set of spectro-temporal features. However, these models have hardly been linked to the ill-understood neurobiological changes that occur in the aging auditory cortex. Modelling the hemodynamic response to a rich natural sound mixture in N=64 listeners of varying age, we here show that in older listeners' auditory cortex, the key feature of temporal rate is represented with a markedly broader tuning. This loss of temporal selectivity is most prominent in primary auditory cortex and planum temporale, with no such changes in adjacent auditory or other brain areas. Amongst older listeners, we observe a direct relationship between chronological age and temporal-rate tuning, unconfounded by auditory acuity or model goodness of fit. In line with senescent neural dedifferentiation more generally, our results highlight decreased selectivity to temporal information as a hallmark of the aging auditory cortex.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Julia Erb

    Department of Psychology, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany
    For correspondence
    julia.erb@uni-luebeck.de
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-3440-7269
  2. Lea-Maria Schmitt

    Department of Psychology, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-9356-2234
  3. Jonas Obleser

    Department of Psychology, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany
    Competing interests
    Jonas Obleser, Reviewing editor, eLife.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-7619-0459

Funding

H2020 European Research Council (ERC-CoG-2014-646696 AUDADAPT"")

  • Jonas Obleser

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (OB 352/2-1)

  • Jonas Obleser

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Human subjects: All participants gave informed consent and were financially compensated or received course credit. All procedures were approved by the local ethics committee of the University of Lübeck (ethical approval AZ 16-107).

Reviewing Editor

  1. Ingrid S Johnsrude, University of Western Ontario, Canada

Publication history

  1. Received: January 20, 2020
  2. Accepted: July 2, 2020
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: July 3, 2020 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: August 6, 2020 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2020, Erb et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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