Frequency-following responses to speech sounds are highly conserved across species and contain cortical contributions

G. Nike Gnanateja, Kyle Rupp, Fernando Llanos, Madison Remick, Marianny Pernia, Srivatsun Sadagopan, Tobias Teichert, Taylor J. Abel, Bharath Chandrasekaran*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Time-varying pitch is a vital cue for human speech perception. Neural processing of time-varying pitch has been extensively assayed using scalp-recorded frequency-following responses (FFRs), an electrophysiological signal thought to reflect integrated phase-locked neural ensemble activity from subcortical auditory areas. Emerging evidence increasingly points to a putative contribution of auditory cortical ensembles to the scalprecorded FFRs. However, the properties of cortical FFRs and precise characterization of laminar sources are still unclear. Here we used direct human intracortical recordings as well as extracranial and intracranial recordings from macaques and guinea pigs to characterize the properties of cortical sources of FFRs to time-varying pitch patterns. We found robust FFRs in the auditory cortex across all species. We leveraged representational similarity analysis as a translational bridge to characterize similarities between the human and animal models. Laminar recordings in animal models showed FFRs emerging primarily from the thalamorecipient layers of the auditory cortex. FFRs arising from these cortical sources significantly contributed to the scalp-recorded FFRs via volume conduction. Our research paves the way for a wide array of studies to investigate the role of cortical FFRs in auditory perception and plasticity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberENEURO.0451-21.2021
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • Auditory brainstem
  • Auditory cortex
  • Cross-species
  • Frequency following responses
  • Periodicity
  • Pitch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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