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Chapter 7

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University of Guelph
PSYC 2410
Elena Choleris

Chapter 7: Mechanisms of Perception: Hearing, Touch, Smell, Taste and Attention - Exteroceptive sensory systems o Auditory (hearing), somatosensory (touch), olfactory (smell) and gustatory (taste) Principles of Sensory System Organization - Sensory areas of the cortex are of 3 fundamental types o Primary sensory cortex  Receives most of its input from the thalamic relay nuclei of that system o Secondary sensory cortex  Areas of the sensory cortex that receive most of their input directly from the primary sensory cortex or from other areas of secondary sensory cortex of the same system o Association cortex  Receive input from more than one sensory system. Most from areas of secondary sensory cortex - Hierarchical organization o Sensory structures are organized in a hierarchy based on the specificity and complexity of their function  Ex. Receptors  thalamic relay nuclei  primary sensory cortex  secondary sensory cortex  association cortex  As you move from primary to secondary cortex, the neurons respond optimally to stimuli of greater and greater specificity and complexity  The higher the level of damage the more specific and complex the deficit o Psychologists divide the general process of perceiving 2 general phases  Sensation  Process of detecting the presence of stimuli  Perception  High-order process of integrating, recognizing and interpreting complete patterns of sensations - Functional segregation o Each of the 3 levels of cerebral cortex: primary, secondary, and association, in each sensory system contains functionally distinct areas that specialize in different kinds of analysis - Parallel processing o Systems in which information flows through components over multiple pathways o The simultaneous analysis of a signal in different ways by the multiple parallel pathways of a neural network o 2 fundamentally different kinds of parallel streams of analysis  One capable of influencing our behaviour without our conscious awareness - Summary model of sensory system organization o Sensory systems are characterized by a division of labor: multiple specialized areas at multiple levels are interconnected by multiple parallel pathways o Binding problem  How does the brain combine individual sensory attributes to produce integrate perceptions?  Possible solution  There is a single area of the cortex at the top of the sensory hierarchy that receives signals from all other areas of the system and puts them together to for perceptions, however there are no areas of cortex to which all areas of a single sensory systems report  Then perceptions must be a product of the combined activity of different interconnected cortical areas Auditory System - Sounds o Are vibrations of air molecules that stimulate the auditory system, humans only hear those molecular vibrations between 20 and 20 000 hertz (cycles per second)  Amplitude- loudness  Frequency- pitch  Complexity- timbre - Pure tones o Single wave vibrations, they exist only in laboratories and sound recording studios, in real life sound is always associated with complex patterns and vibrations o Any complex sound wave can be broken down into a series of sine waves of various frequencies and amplitudes  Fourier analysis  The mathematical procedure for breaking down complex waves into their component sine waves, one theory suggests the auditory system does this  Fundamental frequency  Highest frequency of which the various component frequencies of sound are multiples  Missing fundamental  When the pitch of a complex sound may not be directly related to the frequency of any of the sounds components - The ear o Sound waves travel from the outer ear down the auditory canal and cause the tympanic membrane (ear drum) to vibrate o These vibrations are then transferred to the three ossicles: malleus (hammer), incus (anvil) and the stapes (stirrup) o The vibrations of the staples trigger vibrations of the membrane called the oval window which in turn transfer the vibrations to the fluid of the cochlea, a long coiled tube with an internal membrane running almost down to its tip o The internal membrane is the auditory receptor organ of corti, each pressure change at the oval window travels along with the organ of corti as a wave. It has two membranes:  Basilar membrane  The auditory hair cell receptors are mounted in the basilar membrane  Tectorial membrane  Rests on the hair cells o A deflection of the organ of corti at any point along its length produces a shearing force on the hair cells at the same point which stimulates the hair cells, which increases the firing of axons of the auditory nerve o The vibrations of the cochlear fluid are ultimately dissipated by the round withdow an elastic membrane in the cochlear wall o Cochlea is very sensitive, humans can hear differences in pure tones that differ by frequency by only 0.2% o Different frequencies produce maximal stimulation of hair cells at different points along the basilar membrane  Higher frequencies producing activation closer to the windows  Lower frequencies producing greater activation at the top of the basilar membrane  Thus complex sounds activate hair cells at many different points along the basilar membrane, and the many signals created by a single complex sound are carried out of the ear by many different auditory neurons o The organization of the auditory system is primarily tonotopic o Semicircular cannals  The receptive organs of the vestibular system which carries information about the direction and intensity of head movements, which helps us maintain our balance - From the ear to the primary auditory cortex o No major auditory pathway, but a network of them o Axons of each auditory nerve synapse in ipsilateral cochlear nuclei which projects to superior olives, which project via the later lemniscus to inferior colliculi which project to medial geniculate nuclei to the thalamus, which projects to primary auditory cortex o Signals from each ear are combined at a very low level and are transmitted to both ipsilateral and contralateral auditory cortex - Subcortical mechanisms of sound localization o Localization of sounds in space is mediated by the lateral and medial superior olives o When a sound originates to a person’s left it reaches the left ear first, and it is louder ing the left ear o Neurons in the medial superior olives respond to slight diffs in the time of arrival of signals from two ears o Neurons in the lateral superior olives respond to slight differences in the amplitude of sounds from the two ears o The medial and lateral superior olives project to the superior colliculus and the inferior colliculus  The deep layers of superior colliculi are laid out according to a map of auditory space (instead if tonotopic organization)  The superficial layers, which receive visual input, are organized retinotopically. So the general function of the superior colliculi is locating sources for sensory input in space  Barn owls  Amazing at locating sounds, auditory neurons of the superior colliculus are finely tuned, each neuron responds to sounds from only a particular location in the range of the owls hearing - Auditory cortex o Primary auditory cortex receives the majority of its input from the medial geniculate nucleus, is located in the temporal lobe, hidden from view within the lateral fissure o Core region  PAC+ two adjacent areas in each hemisphere o Belt  Surrounds the core region, area around the secondary cortex o Parabelt  Areas of secondary cortex outside the belt - Organization of primate auditory cortex o Organized in functional columns (like PVC): all neurons encountered during a vertical microelectrode penetration of primary auditory cortex tend to respond optimally to sounds of the same frequency range o Organized tonotopically (like cochlea) each are of primary and secondary auditory cortex appears to be organized on the basis of frequency - What sounds should be used to study auditory cortex? o Major reason for research on auditory cortex lagging is a lack of clear understanding of the dimensions along which auditory cortex evaluates sound o There is clear evidence of hierarchical organization in auditory cortex, neural responses of secondary auditory cortex are more complex than in the PAC, but responses at PC are complex themselves o Catch 22  No idea what auditory cortex does, don’t know what questions to ask or what sounds to use - Two streams of auditory cortex o Proposed that like the 2 mainstreams of visual cortex (dorsal, ventral) there’s 2 in the auditory cortex too o Auditory signals are conducted to 2 large areas of association cortex, prefrontal cortex and posterior auditory pathway  Anterior auditory pathway involved in identifying sounds (what)  Posterior auditory pathway involved in locating sounds (where) - Auditory-visual interactions o In one study monkeys  Posterior parietal neurons were found to have visual receptive fields, some to have auditory receptive fields and some both. In areas with both, both fields covered the same location of the subject’s immediate environment o Functional brain imaging studies have confirmed that sensory interactions do occur in association cortex, and have repeatedly found evidence of sensory interactions in areas of primary sensory cortex o Leading toward new way of thinking: sensory system interaction is an early and integral part of sensory processing - Where does the perception of pitch occur o Small area just anterior to PAC that contained many neurons that responded to pitch, regardless of the quality of the sound it also contained neurons that responded to frequency. Bender and Wang suggested this is likely the place where frequencies of sound were converted to perception of pitch o A similar pitch areas have been identified by fMRI studies in a similar location in the human brain Effects of Damage to the Auditory System - Auditory cortex damage o Effects of auditory cortex damage have relied largely on the study of surgically placed lesions in non humans and most study the effect of large lesions involving the core region and most of the belt and parabelt o Surprising lack of severe permanent deficits suggesting subcortical circuits serve more complex and important than thought  Few permanent hearing deficits have been reliably detected in rats following auditory cortex lesions  Effect on humans and monkeys seem to be similar o Initially, there is a loss of hearing from shock lesions but is restored after a few weeks o Major permanent effects are loss of the ability to localize sounds and impairment to the ability to discriminate frequencies o Effects of unilateral auditory cortex lesions suggest that the system is partially contralateral; it disrupts the ability to localize sounds in a space contralateral to the lesion; however other deficits produced this way only slightly contralateral - Deafness in humans o 250 million people suffer from disabling hearing impairment (2005) o Total deafness only 1% of the time o Because of the parallel organization of the auditory system, severe hearing problems usually result from damage the inner or middle ear or to the nerves leading from them rather than more centrak damage o Damage to ossicles (conductive deafness) and damage to the cochlea or auditory nerve (nerve deafness, cause by loss of hair cell receptors)  If only part of cochlea damaged, may only have nerve deafness to some frequencies and not others  Characteristic of age related hearing loss (first is perceiving high frequencies) o Tinnitus  Ringing of the ears  Cutting the nerve does not stop the ringing, suggests that changes to the central auditory system caused by deafness are the cause of tinnitus o Cochlear implants  Benefit people with nerve deafness, they bypass damage to hair cells by converting sounds picked up by a microphone on the patient’s ear to electrical signals which are carried into the cochlea by a bundle of electrodes  The signals excite the auditory nerve  Does not restore normal hearing  Sooner you get an implant the better because disuse leads to degeneration of auditory neural pathways Somatosensory System: Touch and Pain - Somatosensory system is actually 3 separate but interacting systems o Exteroceptive system  Which senses external stimuli that are applied to the skin  Mechanical stimuli (touch)  Thermal stimuli (temperature)  Nociceptive stimuli (pain) o Proprioceptive system  Which monitors info about the body that comes from receptors in the muscles, joints and organs of balance o Interceptive system  Which provides general info about conditions within the body - Cutaneous receptors o Free nerve endings  Simplest  Sensitive to temperature o Pacinian corpuscles  Largest and deepest  Adapt rapidly  Respond sudden displacements of the skin, not to sudden pressure o Merkel’s disks  Respond to gradual skin indentation o Ruffini endings  Respond to skin stretch o Stereognosis  Identification of object by touch  Moving object around to change pattern of stimulation to keep all sensors activated o Stimuli applied to the skin deform or change the chemistry of the receptor and in turn changes the permeability of the receptor cell membrane to various ions, results in neural signal - Dermatomes o Neural fibers that carry info from cutaneous receptors and other sematosensory receptors gather together in nerves and enter the spinal cord via the dorsal roots o Dermatome  Area of the body that is innervated by the left and right dorsal roots of a given segment of the spinal cord o Lots of overlap, so destruction of a signal dorsal root produces little somotosensory loss - Two major Somatosensory Pathways o Somatosensory info ascends from each side of the body to the human cortex over 2 major pathways  Dorsal-column medial-lemniscus system; tends to carry info about touch and proprioception  Neurons enter the spinal cord via dorsal roots  Ascend ipsilaterally in dorsal columns  Synapse in dorsal column nuclei of the medulla  Axons of dorsal column nuclei decussate (cross over)  Ascend in medial lemniscus to contralateral ventral posterior nucleus of thalamus (also receives input from trigeminal nerve which carry somatosensory info from contralateral areas of face)  Most neurons of ventral of ventral posterior nucleus project to primary somatosensory cortex (SI)  Others project to secondary somatosensory cortex (SII) or the posterior parietal cortex  Dorsal column neurons from toes are longest neurons in the body  Antero-lateral system: tends to carry info about ain and temperature  Dorsal root neurons synapses as soon as they enter the spinal cord  Axons of second-order neurons decussate then ascend to the brain in the contralateral anterolateral portion of the spinal cord; some don’t decussate and ascend ipsilaterally  Has 3 tracts o Spinotalamtic  Projects to ventral posterior nucleus of thalamus o Spinoreticular  Projects to reticular formation, then parafascicular nuclei and intralaminar nuclei of thalamus o Spinotectal  Projects to tectum (colliculi)  Trigeminal nerve branch carry pain and temperature info from face to same thalamic sites, then info is distributed to SI SII and posterior parietal cortex and other parts o If both ascending somatosen
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