A sequence of acoustic events is perceived either as one continuous sound or as a stream of temporally discrete sounds (acoustic flutter), depending on the rate at which the acoustic events repeat. Acoustic flutter is perceived at repetition rates near or below the lower limit for perceiving pitch, and is akin to the discrete percepts of visual flicker and tactile flutter caused by the slow repetition of sensory stimulation. It has been shown that slowly repeating acoustic events are represented explicitly by stimulus-synchronized neuronal firing patterns in primary auditory cortex (AI). Here we show that a second neural code for acoustic flutter exists in the auditory cortex of marmoset monkeys (Callithrix jacchus), in which the firing rate of a neuron is a monotonic function of an acoustic event's repetition rate. Whereas many neurons in AI encode acoustic flutter using a dual temporal/rate representation, we find that neurons in cortical fields rostral to AI predominantly use a monotonic rate code and lack stimulus-synchronized discharges. These findings indicate that the neural representation of acoustic flutter is transformed along the caudal-to-rostral axis of auditory cortex.
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