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Vestigial auriculomotor activity indicates the direction of auditory attention in humans.
Elife. 2020 07 03; 9E

Abstract

Unlike dogs and cats, people do not point their ears as they focus attention on novel, salient, or task-relevant stimuli. Our species may nevertheless have retained a vestigial pinna-orienting system that has persisted as a 'neural fossil' within in the brain for about 25 million years. Consistent with this hypothesis, we demonstrate that the direction of auditory attention is reflected in sustained electrical activity of muscles within the vestigial auriculomotor system. Surface electromyograms (EMGs) were taken from muscles that either move the pinna or alter its shape. To assess reflexive, stimulus-driven attention we presented novel sounds from speakers at four different lateral locations while the participants silently read a boring text in front of them. To test voluntary, goal-directed attention we instructed participants to listen to a short story coming from one of these speakers, while ignoring a competing story from the corresponding speaker on the opposite side. In both experiments, EMG recordings showed larger activity at the ear on the side of the attended stimulus, but with slightly different patterns. Upward movement (perking) differed according to the lateral focus of attention only during voluntary orienting; rearward folding of the pinna's upper-lateral edge exhibited such differences only during reflexive orienting. The existence of a pinna-orienting system in humans, one that is experimentally accessible, offers opportunities for basic as well as applied science.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Systems Neuroscience and Neurotechnology Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Saarland University & School of Engineering, htw saar, Homburg/Saar, Germany.Systems Neuroscience and Neurotechnology Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Saarland University & School of Engineering, htw saar, Homburg/Saar, Germany.Systems Neuroscience and Neurotechnology Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Saarland University & School of Engineering, htw saar, Homburg/Saar, Germany.Systems Neuroscience and Neurotechnology Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Saarland University & School of Engineering, htw saar, Homburg/Saar, Germany.Audiological Research Unit, Sivantos GmbH, Erlangen, Germany.Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, United States.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Language

eng

PubMed ID

32618268

Citation

Strauss, Daniel J., et al. "Vestigial Auriculomotor Activity Indicates the Direction of Auditory Attention in Humans." ELife, vol. 9, 2020.
Strauss DJ, Corona-Strauss FI, Schroeer A, et al. Vestigial auriculomotor activity indicates the direction of auditory attention in humans. Elife. 2020;9.
Strauss, D. J., Corona-Strauss, F. I., Schroeer, A., Flotho, P., Hannemann, R., & Hackley, S. A. (2020). Vestigial auriculomotor activity indicates the direction of auditory attention in humans. ELife, 9. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.54536
Strauss DJ, et al. Vestigial Auriculomotor Activity Indicates the Direction of Auditory Attention in Humans. Elife. 2020 07 3;9 PubMed PMID: 32618268.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Vestigial auriculomotor activity indicates the direction of auditory attention in humans. AU - Strauss,Daniel J, AU - Corona-Strauss,Farah I, AU - Schroeer,Andreas, AU - Flotho,Philipp, AU - Hannemann,Ronny, AU - Hackley,Steven A, Y1 - 2020/07/03/ PY - 2020/01/24/received PY - 2020/05/28/accepted PY - 2020/7/4/entrez PY - 2020/7/4/pubmed PY - 2020/7/4/medline KW - auditory attention KW - electromyogram KW - human KW - neuroscience KW - pinna-orienting JF - eLife JO - Elife VL - 9 N2 - Unlike dogs and cats, people do not point their ears as they focus attention on novel, salient, or task-relevant stimuli. Our species may nevertheless have retained a vestigial pinna-orienting system that has persisted as a 'neural fossil' within in the brain for about 25 million years. Consistent with this hypothesis, we demonstrate that the direction of auditory attention is reflected in sustained electrical activity of muscles within the vestigial auriculomotor system. Surface electromyograms (EMGs) were taken from muscles that either move the pinna or alter its shape. To assess reflexive, stimulus-driven attention we presented novel sounds from speakers at four different lateral locations while the participants silently read a boring text in front of them. To test voluntary, goal-directed attention we instructed participants to listen to a short story coming from one of these speakers, while ignoring a competing story from the corresponding speaker on the opposite side. In both experiments, EMG recordings showed larger activity at the ear on the side of the attended stimulus, but with slightly different patterns. Upward movement (perking) differed according to the lateral focus of attention only during voluntary orienting; rearward folding of the pinna's upper-lateral edge exhibited such differences only during reflexive orienting. The existence of a pinna-orienting system in humans, one that is experimentally accessible, offers opportunities for basic as well as applied science. SN - 2050-084X UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/32618268/Vestigial_auriculomotor_activity_indicates_the_direction_of_auditory_attention_in_humans L2 - https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.54536 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -
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