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Involvement of ordinary what and where auditory cortical areas during illusory perception

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The focus of the present study is on the relationships between illusory and non-illusory auditory perception analyzed at a biological level. To this aim, we investigate neural mechanisms underlying the Deutsch’s illusion, a condition in which both sound identity (“what”) and origin (“where”) are deceptively perceived. We recorded magnetoencephalogram from healthy subjects in three conditions: (a) listening to the acoustic sequence eliciting the illusion (ILL), (b) listening to a monaural acoustic sequence mimicking the illusory percept (MON), and (c) listening to an acoustic sequence similar to (a) but not eliciting the illusion (NIL). Results show that the areas involved in the illusion were the Heschl’s gyrus, the insular cortex, the inferior frontal gyrus, and the medial-frontal gyrus bilaterally, together with the left inferior-parietal lobe. These areas belong to the two main auditory streams known as the what and where pathways. The neural responses there observed indicate that the sound sequence eliciting the illusion is associated to larger activity at early and middle latencies and to a dynamic lateralization pattern net in favor of the left hemisphere. The present findings extend to illusory perception the well-known what–where auditory processing mechanism, especially as regards tardy latency activity.

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Correspondence to Alfredo Brancucci.

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Brancucci, A., Padulo, C., Franciotti, R. et al. Involvement of ordinary what and where auditory cortical areas during illusory perception. Brain Struct Funct 223, 965–979 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00429-017-1538-4

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  • Deutsch illusion
  • Octave illusion
  • Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
  • Auditory perception
  • What and where auditory streams