Identifying environmental sounds: A multimodal mapping study

Barbara Tomasino, Cinzia Canderan, Dario Marin, Marta Maieron, Michele Gremese, Serena D'agostini, Franco Fabbro, Miran Skrap

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our environment is full of auditory events such as warnings or hazards, and their correct recognition is essential. We explored environmental sounds (ES) recognition in a series of studies. In study 1 we performed an Activation Likelihood Estimation (ALE) meta-analysis of neuroimaging experiments addressing ES processing to delineate the network of areas consistently involved in ES processing. Areas consistently activated in the ALE meta-analysis were the STG/MTG, insula/rolandic operculum, parahippocampal gyrus and inferior frontal gyrus bilaterally. Some of these areas truly reflect ES processing, whereas others are related to design choices, e.g., type of task, type of control condition, type of stimulus. In study 2 we report on 7 neurosurgical patients with lesions involving the areas which were found to be activated by the ALE meta-analysis. We tested their ES recognition abilities and found an impairment of ES recognition. These results indicate that deficits of ES recognition do not exclusively reflect lesions to the right or to the left hemisphere but both hemispheres are involved. The most frequently lesioned area is the hippocampus/insula/STG. We made sure that any impairment in ES recognition would not be related to language problems, but reflect impaired ES processing. In study 3 we carried out an fMRI study on patients (vs. healthy controls) to investigate how the areas involved in ES might be functionally deregulated because of a lesion. The fMRI evidenced that controls activated the right IFG, the STG bilaterally and the left insula. We applied a multimodal mapping approach and found that, although the meta-analysis showed that part of the left and right STG/MTG activation during ES processing might in part be related to design choices, this area was one of the most frequently lesioned areas in our patients, thus highlighting its causal role in ES processing. We found that the ROIs we drew on the two clusters of activation found in the left and in the right STG overlapped with the lesions of at least 4 out of the 7 patients' lesions, indicating that the lack of STG activation found for patients is related to brain damage and is crucial for explaining the ES deficit.

Original languageEnglish
Article number567
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue numberOCTOBER
Publication statusPublished - Oct 21 2015


  • Activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis
  • Environmental sounds
  • fMRI
  • Lesion mapping
  • Neurosurgical patients

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neurology
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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