Populations of auditory cortical neurons can accurately encode acoustic space across stimulus intensity
The auditory cortex is critical for perceiving a sound's location. However, there is no topographic representation of acoustic space, and individual auditory cortical neurons are often broadly tuned to stimulus location. It thus remains unclear how acoustic space is represented in the mammalian cerebral cortex and how it could contribute to sound localization. This report tests whether the firing rates of populations of neurons in different auditory cortical fields in the macaque monkey carry sufficient information to account for horizontal sound localization ability. We applied an optimal neural decoding technique, based on maximum likelihood estimation, to populations of neurons from 6 different cortical fields encompassing core and belt areas. We found that the firing rate of neurons in the caudolateral area contain enough information to account for sound localization ability, but neurons in other tested core and belt cortical areas do not. These results provide a detailed and plausible population model of how acoustic space could be represented in the primate cerebral cortex and support a dual stream processing model of auditory cortical processing.