Neuroscientists have long thought that the brain uses different regions to locate sounds and to analyse them, as is known to be true for vision. Stephen Lomber of the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, now provides behavioural evidence that this is so.
Lomber trained cats to locate the source of a sound, and then to discriminate patterns of sound. When he chilled the cats' posterior auditory fields, they got worse at pinpointing a sound's source; when the cats' anterior auditory fields were chilled, they were worse on the pattern discrimination task. The test supports the idea that the brain processes the 'what' and 'where' of sound in parallel.