Selective attention sharpens population receptive fields in human auditory cortex

Agustin Lage-Castellanos, Federico De Martino, Geoffrey M. Ghose, Omer Faruk Gulban, Michelle Moerel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Selective attention enables the preferential processing of relevant stimulus aspects. Invasive animal studies have shown that attending a sound feature rapidly modifies neuronal tuning throughout the auditory cortex. Human neuroimaging studies have reported enhanced auditory cortical responses with selective attention. To date, it remains unclear how the results obtained with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in humans relate to the electrophysiological findings in animal models. Here we aim to narrow the gap between animal and human research by combining a selective attention task similar in design to those used in animal electrophysiology with high spatial resolution ultra-high field fMRI at 7 Tesla. Specifically, human participants perform a detection task, whereas the probability of target occurrence varies with sound frequency. Contrary to previous fMRI studies, we show that selective attention resulted in population receptive field sharpening, and consequently reduced responses, at the attended sound frequencies. The difference between our results to those of previous fMRI studies supports the notion that the influence of selective attention on auditory cortex is diverse and may depend on context, stimulus, and task.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5395-5408
Number of pages14
JournalCerebral Cortex
Early online date6 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023


  • Frequency tuning
  • Human auditory cortex
  • Selective attention
  • pRF modeling
  • ultra-high field fMRI

Cite this