Threat-Related Corticocortical Connectivity Elicited by Rapid Auditory Looms

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Threat-Related Corticocortical Connectivity Elicited by Rapid Auditory Looms


Ignatiadis, K.; Barumerli, R.; Deco, G.; Toth, B.; Baumgartner, R.


While sounds of approaching objects are generally more salient than those of receding ones, the traditional association of this auditory looming bias with threat perception is subject to debate. Differences between looming and receding sounds may also be learned through non-threatening multisensory information, or influenced by confounding stimulus characteristics. To investigate, we analyzed corticocortical connectivity patterns from electroencephalography, examining the preferential processing of looming sounds under different attentional states. To simulate rapid distance changes we used complementary distance cues, previously studied in the looming bias literature. Notably, despite the absence of conscious threat perception, we observed crucial involvement of frontal cortical regions typically associated with threat and fear responses. Our findings suggest an underlying bias towards the ventral \'what\' stream over the dorsal \'where\' stream in auditory information processing, even when the participants\' task was solely focused on the discrimination of movement direction. These results support the idea, that the perceptual bias towards looming sounds reflects an auditory threat detection mechanism, while offering insights into the neural function involved in processing ecologically relevant environmental cues.

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