Short-term plasticity of the human auditory cortex
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Magnetoencephalographic measurements (MEG) were used to examine the effect on the human auditory cortex of removing specific frequencies from the acoustic environment. Subjects listened for 3 h on three consecutive days to music "notched" by removal of a narrow frequency band centered on 1 kHz. Immediately after listening to the notched music, the neural representation for a 1-kHz test stimulus centered on the notch was found to be significantly diminished compared to the neural representation for a 0.5-kHz control stimulus centered one octave below the region of notching. The diminished neural representation for 1 kHz reversed to baseline between the successive listening sessions. These results suggest that rapid changes can occur in the tuning of neurons in the adult human auditory cortex following manipulation of the acoustic environment. A dynamic form of neural plasticity may underlie the phenomenon observed here.
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