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The effect of brain lesions on sound localization in complex acoustic environments

Ida C. Zündorf, Hans-Otto Karnath, Jörg Lewald
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awu044 1410-1418 First published online: 10 March 2014


Localizing sound sources of interest in cluttered acoustic environments—as in the ‘cocktail-party’ situation—is one of the most demanding challenges to the human auditory system in everyday life. In this study, stroke patients’ ability to localize acoustic targets in a single-source and in a multi-source setup in the free sound field were directly compared. Subsequent voxel-based lesion-behaviour mapping analyses were computed to uncover the brain areas associated with a deficit in localization in the presence of multiple distracter sound sources rather than localization of individually presented sound sources. Analyses revealed a fundamental role of the right planum temporale in this task. The results from the left hemisphere were less straightforward, but suggested an involvement of inferior frontal and pre- and postcentral areas. These areas appear to be particularly involved in the spectrotemporal analyses crucial for effective segregation of multiple sound streams from various locations, beyond the currently known network for localization of isolated sound sources in otherwise silent surroundings.

  • sound localization
  • auditory scene analysis
  • selective attention
  • stroke
  • human
  • Abbreviation
    voxel-based lesion-behaviour mapping
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