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Predicting visual stimuli on the basis of activity in auditory cortices



Using multivariate pattern analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging data, we found that the subjective experience of sound, in the absence of auditory stimulation, was associated with content-specific activity in early auditory cortices in humans. As subjects viewed sound-implying, but silent, visual stimuli, activity in auditory cortex differentiated among sounds related to various animals, musical instruments and objects. These results support the idea that early sensory cortex activity reflects perceptual experience, rather than sensory stimulation alone.

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Figure 1: Classifier performance on pair-wise discriminations among individual stimuli.
Figure 2: Classifier performance on pair-wise discriminations among categories.
Figure 3: Classifier performance on categorical discriminations for visual, auditory and cross-modal classification.


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H.D. and A.D. are supported by the Mathers Foundation and the US National Institutes of Health (5P50NS019632-25).

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Authors and Affiliations



K.M. conceived and designed the study with input from the other authors, conducted functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), participated in data analysis and wrote the manuscript together with A.D. J.T.K. advised on study design, conducted fMRI, performed the data analysis and wrote part of the supplementary information. R.E. prepared stimuli, wrote the stimulus presentation script, conducted fMRI, traced anatomical masks, participated in data analysis and conducted literature review. C.W. prepared stimuli, traced anatomical masks and conducted literature review. H.D. supervised the design of the anatomical masks and provided conceptual advice. A.D. supervised the project and advised K.M. on the preparation of the manuscript. All authors discussed the results and their implications and commented on the study and manuscript preparation at all stages.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Antonio Damasio.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Text and Figures

Supplementary Figures 1–8, Supplementary Methods, Supplementary Results and Supplementary Discussion (PDF 668 kb)

Supplementary Video 1

This clip displays a howling dog and serves as an example for the animal video clips. (MOV 1639 kb)

Supplementary Video 2

This clip displays a piano key being struck and serves as an example for the musical instrument video clips. (MOV 1273 kb)

Supplementary Video 3

This clip displays a handful of coins being dropped into a glass and serves as an example for the object video clips. (MOV 1231 kb)

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Meyer, K., Kaplan, J., Essex, R. et al. Predicting visual stimuli on the basis of activity in auditory cortices. Nat Neurosci 13, 667–668 (2010).

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