Communication is of major importance to our survival and yet we do not understand how the brain encodes this information. Moreover, much of human communication and language is predicated on learning simple auditory associations. Investigating non-human primate communication and learning can provide a template for the neural precursors of language. A guiding theme of this proposal is that a testable neural model of communication, including auditory learning, memory, and object identification, will emerge most readily from focused, detailed investigations of individual neurons and their perceptual and behavioral correlates. It was found recently that the cortex of the monkey's left temporal pole in the superior temporal gyrus is specialized for processing species-specific monkey vocalizations and this lateralization of communication sounds is similar to humans. The mechanism for hemispheric specialization in this case is suppression of the right hemisphere via the corpus callosum. Building on this finding, the selectivity of auditory neurons within the temporal pole to various sound stimuli, including monkey vocalizations, will be determined. Next, we will elucidate whether auditory responsive neurons within the temporal pole respond differentially to spatial auditory information and map their location. We will also determine if the temporal pole neurons are encoding conceptual learning and delay memory. These experiments are essential to describe the role of the temporal pole in communication. Specific hypothesis concerning the neural encoding of auditory information will be tested in awake monkeys using single unit electrodes implanted in the temporal pole. All together, the experiments proposed here address basic issues in auditory processing that have not been systematically explored. It is expected that a more thorough understanding of the monkey auditory system will provide useful insights into the neural substrates and mechanisms of human communication and into the causes and treatment of learning disabilities and communicative disorders.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
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Cognitive Neuroscience Study Section (COG)
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Platt, Christopher
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University of Iowa
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Iowa City
United States
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Bigelow, James; Poremba, Amy (2015) Item-nonspecific proactive interference in monkeys' auditory short-term memory. Hear Res 327:69-77
Bigelow, James; Poremba, Amy (2014) Achilles' ear? Inferior human short-term and recognition memory in the auditory modality. PLoS One 9:e89914
Plakke, B; Ng, C-W; Poremba, A (2013) Neural correlates of auditory recognition memory in primate lateral prefrontal cortex. Neuroscience 244:62-76
Poremba, Amy; Bigelow, James; Rossi, Breein (2013) Processing of communication sounds: contributions of learning, memory, and experience. Hear Res 305:31-44
Bigelow, James; Poremba, Amy (2013) Auditory proactive interference in monkeys: the roles of stimulus set size and intertrial interval. Learn Behav 41:319-32
Bigelow, James; Poremba, Amy (2013) Auditory memory in monkeys: costs and benefits of proactive interference. Am J Primatol 75:425-34
Acerbo, Martin J; Lazareva, Olga F; McInnerney, John et al. (2012) Figure-ground discrimination in the avian brain: the nucleus rotundus and its inhibitory complex. Vision Res 70:18-26
Plakke, Bethany; Freeman, John H; Poremba, Amy (2009) Metabolic mapping of rat forebrain and midbrain during delay and trace eyeblink conditioning. Neurobiol Learn Mem 92:335-44
Ng, Chi-Wing; Plakke, Bethany; Poremba, Amy (2009) Primate auditory recognition memory performance varies with sound type. Hear Res 256:64-74
Ding, Song-Lin; Van Hoesen, Gary W; Cassell, Martin D et al. (2009) Parcellation of human temporal polar cortex: a combined analysis of multiple cytoarchitectonic, chemoarchitectonic, and pathological markers. J Comp Neurol 514:595-623

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