DS0407 -

Neural mechanisms of temporal discrimination in the auditory cortex – MORSE

Submission summary

Time is an essential dimension of sensory reality, and plays a central role in cognitive phenomena such as auditory communication and speech perception. Our understanding of how the brain processes temporal information is however in its infancy. This project will examine the neural processing of purely temporal stimuli in the auditory cortex. The goal of the project will be to determine the mechanisms that underlie the ability to robustly discriminate between temporal stimuli that have different behavioral meanings. These mechanisms will be investigated at the network and computational level by combining analyses of experimental data, numerical modeling, and mathematical theory.

We will focus on a specific auditory discrimination task studied with awake behaving ferrets in the collaborating laboratory of Shihab Shamma. Electro-physiological recordings of extra-cellular activity were performed in the auditory cortex while the animals discriminated between two categories of temporal stimuli. The data was shared through an ongoing collaboration. In the first task of the project, we will use population decoding methods to investigate the neural representations of stimuli and behavioral categories in the primary auditory cortex. To understand the relationship between the observed coding properties and the underlying neural dynamics, in the second part of the project we will develop and analyze a network model of the recorded activity. Based on these results, in the third part of the project we will develop a more general computational theory of temporal discrimination, and exploit this theory to produce predictions for novel classes of stimuli.

The final outcome of the project will be a data-driven theory for the neural mechanisms underlying temporal discrimination. The predictions of this theory will be tested in future collaborative projects involving human and animal experiments. Elucidating the neural basis of auditory temporal discrimination will ultimately contribute to understanding the cortical mechanisms of fundamental cognitive processes such as speech processing.

Project coordination

Srdjan OSTOJIC (Ecole Normale Supérieure Paris)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


ENS Ecole Normale Supérieure Paris

Help of the ANR 268,079 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: September 2016 - 48 Months

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