A neuronal representation of the location of nearby sounds
Humans can accurately perceive the location of a sound source-not only the direction, but also the distance. Sounds near the head, within ducking or reaching distance, have a special saliency. However, little is known about this perception of auditory distance. The direction to a sound source can be determined by interaural differences, and the mechanisms of direction perception have been studied intensively; but except for studies on echolocation in the bat, little is known about how neurons encode information on auditory distance. Here we describe neurons in the brain of macaque monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) that represent the auditory space surrounding the head, within roughly 30 cm. These neurons, which are located in the ventral premotor cortex, have spatial receptive fields that extend a limited distance outward from the head.