Peripheral sounds rapidly activate visual cortex: Evidence from electrocorticography

X. David Brang*, Vernon L. Towle, Satoru Suzuki, Steven A. Hillyard, Senneca Di Tusa, Zhongtian Dai, James Tao, Shasha Wu, Marcia Grabowecky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Neurophysiological studies with animals suggest that sounds modulate activity in primary visual cortex in the presence of concurrent visual stimulation. Noninvasive neuroimaging studies in humans have similarly shown that sounds modulate activity in visual areas even in the absence of visual stimuli or visual task demands. However, the spatial and temporal limitations of these noninvasive methods prevent the determination of how rapidly sounds activate early visual cortex and what information about the sounds is relayed there. Using spatially and temporally precise measures of local synaptic activity acquired from depth electrodes in humans, we demonstrate that peripherally presented sounds evoke activity in the anterior portion of the contralateral, but not ipsilateral, calcarine sulcus within 28 ms of sound onset. These results suggest that auditory stimuli rapidly evoke spatially specific activity in visual cortex even in the absence of concurrent visual stimulation or visual task demands. This rapid auditory-evoked activation of primary visual cortex is likely to be mediated by subcortical pathways or direct cortical projections from auditory to visual areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3023-3028
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 24 2015


  • Auditory localization
  • ECoG
  • Intracranial
  • Multisensory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


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