The functional neuroanatomy of auditory sensory gating and its behavioural implications

  • Parnpreet Virk

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Auditory sensory gating (ASG) is the ability in individuals to suppress incoming irrelevant sensory input, indexed by evoked response to paired auditory stimuli. ASG is impaired in psychopathology such as schizophrenia, in which it has been proposed as putative endophenotype. This study aims to characterise electrophysiological properties of the phenomenon using MEG in time and frequency domains as well as to localise putative networks involved in the process at both sensor and source level. We also investigated the relationship between ASG measures and personality profiles in healthy participants in the light of its candidate endophenotype role in psychiatric disorders. Auditory evoked magnetic fields were recorded in twenty seven healthy participants by P50 ‘paired-click’ paradigm presented in pairs (conditioning stimulus S1- testing stimulus S2) at 80dB, separated by 250msec with inter trial interval of 7-10 seconds. Gating ratio in healthy adults ranged from 0.5 to 0.8 suggesting dimensional nature of P50 ASG. The brain regions active during this process were bilateral superior temporal gyrus (STG) and bilateral inferior frontal gyrus (IFG); activation was significantly stronger in IFG during S2 as compared to S1 (at p<0.05). Measures of effective connectivity between these regions using DCM modelling revealed the role of frontal cortex in modulating ASG as suggested by intracranial studies, indicating major role of inhibitory interneuron connections. Findings from this study identified a unique event-related oscillatory pattern for P50 ASG with alpha (STG)-beta (IFG) desynchronization and increase in cortical oscillatory gamma power (IFG) during S2 condition as compared to S1. These findings show that the main generator for P50 response is within temporal lobe and that inhibitory interneurons and gamma oscillations in the frontal cortex contributes substantially towards sensory gating. Our findings also show that ASG is a predictor of personality profiles (introvert vs extrovert dimension).
Date of AwardJun 2015
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorStefano Seri (Supervisor) & Joel Talcott (Supervisor)


  • P50 ERP
  • sensory gating
  • magnetoencephalography
  • connectivity
  • neural oscillations

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