Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Brain activity underlying auditory perceptual learning during short period training: simultaneous fMRI and EEG recording

Ana Cláudia Silva de Souza1*, Hani Camille Yehia2, Masa-aki Sato3 and Daniel Callan3

Author affiliations

1 Universidade Federal de São João del-Rei, Ouro Branco, Brazil

2 Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

3 ATR Neural Information Analysis Laboratories, Kyoto, Japan

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2013, 14:8  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-14-8

Published: 14 January 2013



There is an accumulating body of evidence indicating that neuronal functional specificity to basic sensory stimulation is mutable and subject to experience. Although fMRI experiments have investigated changes in brain activity after relative to before perceptual learning, brain activity during perceptual learning has not been explored. This work investigated brain activity related to auditory frequency discrimination learning using a variational Bayesian approach for source localization, during simultaneous EEG and fMRI recording. We investigated whether the practice effects are determined solely by activity in stimulus-driven mechanisms or whether high-level attentional mechanisms, which are linked to the perceptual task, control the learning process.


The results of fMRI analyses revealed significant attention and learning related activity in left and right superior temporal gyrus STG as well as the left inferior frontal gyrus IFG. Current source localization of simultaneously recorded EEG data was estimated using a variational Bayesian method. Analysis of current localized to the left inferior frontal gyrus and the right superior temporal gyrus revealed gamma band activity correlated with behavioral performance.


Rapid improvement in task performance is accompanied by plastic changes in the sensory cortex as well as superior areas gated by selective attention. Together the fMRI and EEG results suggest that gamma band activity in the right STG and left IFG plays an important role during perceptual learning.

Neural plasticity; Attention and performance; Perceptual learning; Auditory perception; Simultaneous fMRI and EEG; Time-frequency analysis