Mitchell Sutter, Ph.D.

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Position Title

  • Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior
  • Center for Neuroscience

Auditory and Sensory Systems

Research Summary

Our lab researches how the brain analyzes sounds, how attention influences this neural analysis, and how this leads to decisions and actions in response to sound.  To do this we use a multidisciplinary approach combining neuroscience (recording the electrical activity of single neurons), behavior, psychology, and quantitative approaches.

How can we tell the sound of an alarm clock from a barking dog, or of an ambulance siren from a car horn? How do animals process vocalizations or humans process speech? How can we stand in a crowded cocktail party and understand one person's speech while our ears are bombarded with sounds from a barrage of sources: 100 other people talking, cell phones, air conditioners, glasses jingling, background music? To answer these questions we need a fundamental knowledge of hearing and how the brain analyzes sounds. Our lab's research focuses on these fundamental questions.

Little is now about what role the higher auditory areas (in the midbrain, thalamus, and cortex) play in sound perception, and sound guided behavior and action. A goal of our research is to elucidate how 'higher' brain areas, contribute to hearing, with a particular emphasis on the role of auditory cortex. We believe 'higher' levels of the brain are essential for hearing in the complex environments encountered by all animals.  We also have recently found that areas thought to be auditory only are strongly influenced by attention and decisions made by the animal. The latter is surprising since sensory cortex appears not just to be involved in sensing the sound, but also in guiding the behavior.

Select Publications

Niwa M, Johnson JS, O'Connor KN, and Sutter ML. Differences between Primary Auditory Cortex and Auditory Belt Related to Encoding and Choice for AM Sounds. J Neurosci 33: 8378-8395, 2013.

Downer J, Verhein J, O'Connor K, and Sutter M. Choice Probability across Auditory Cortex. J Cognitive Neurosci 56-56, 2013.

Verhein J, Downer J, O'Connor K, Noriega N, Johnson J, and Sutter M. Auditory Feature-Selective Attention in Humans and Rhesus Macaques. J Cognitive Neurosci 121-122, 2013.

Niwa M, Johnson JS, O'Connor KN, and Sutter ML. Active Engagement Improves Primary Auditory Cortical Neurons' Ability to Discriminate Temporal Modulation. Journal of Neuroscience 32: 9323-9334, 2012a.

Johnson JS, Yin PB, O'Connor KN, and Sutter ML. Ability of primary auditory cortical neurons to detect amplitude modulation with rate and temporal codes: neurometric analysis. Journal of Neurophysiology 107: 3325-3341, 2012.

Niwa M, Johnson JS, O'Connor KN, and Sutter ML. Activity Related to Perceptual Judgment and Action in Primary Auditory Cortex. Journal of Neuroscience 32: 3193-3210, 2012b.

Yin P, Johnson JS, O'Connor KN, and Sutter ML. Coding of amplitude modulation in primary auditory cortex. J Neurophysiol 105: 582-600, 2011.

O'Connor KN, Johnson JS, Niwa M, Noriega NC, Marshall EA, and Sutter ML. Amplitude modulation detection as a function of modulation frequency and stimulus duration: Comparisons between macaques and humans. Hear Res 277: 37-43, 2011.

Petkov CI, and Sutter ML. Evolutionary conservation and neuronal mechanisms of auditory perceptual restoration. Hear Res 271: 54-65, 2011.

O'Connor KN, Yin P, Petkov CI, and Sutter ML. Complex spectral interactions encoded by auditory cortical neurons: relationship between bandwidth and pattern. Front Syst Neurosci 4: 145, 2010.

Yin P, Mishkin M, Sutter M, and Fritz JB. Early stages of melody processing: stimulus-sequence and task-dependent neuronal activity in monkey auditory cortical fields A1 and R. J Neurophysiol 100: 3009-3029, 2008.

Recanzone GH, and Sutter ML. The biological basis of audition. Annu Rev Psychol 59: 119-142, 2008.

Petkov CI, O'Connor KN, and Sutter ML. Encoding of illusory continuity in primary auditory cortex. Neuron 54: 153-165, 2007.

Petkov CI, O'Connor K N, Benmoshe G, Baynes K, and Sutter ML. Auditory perceptual grouping and attention in dyslexia. Brain research Cognitive brain research 24: 343-354, 2005.

Sutter ML. Spectral processing in the auditory cortex. International review of neurobiology 70: 253-298, 2005.

O'Connor KN, Petkov CI, and Sutter ML. Adaptive stimulus optimization for auditory cortical neurons. J Neurophysiol 94: 4051-4067, 2005.

Petkov CI, O'Connor KN, and Sutter ML. Illusory sound perception in macaque monkeys. J Neurosci 23: 9155-9161, 2003.

Sutter ML, and Loftus WC. Excitatory and inhibitory intensity tuning in auditory cortex: evidence for multiple inhibitory mechanisms. J Neurophysiol 90: 2629-2647, 2003.

O'Connor K.N., Sutter M.L. Auditory Temporal Integration in Primates: A Comparative Approach. In: Primate Audition Ethology and Neurobiology (Ghazanfar A, ed), pp 27-43. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press., 2003

Loftus WC, and Sutter ML. Spectrotemporal organization of excitatory and inhibitory receptive fields of cat posterior auditory field neurons. Journal of Neurophysiology (Bethesda) 86: 475-491., 2001.

Sutter ML. Shapes and level tolerances of frequency tuning curves in primary auditory cortex: quantitative measures and population codes. J Neurophysiol 84: 1012-1025, 2000.

Sutter ML, Petkov C, Baynes K, and O'Connor KN. Auditory scene analysis in dyslexics. Neuroreport 11: 1967-1971, 2000.

O'Connor KN, and Sutter ML. Global spectral and location effects in auditory perceptual grouping. J Cognitive Neuroscience 12: 1-13, 2000.

O'Connor KN, Barruel P, and Sutter ML. Global processing of spectrally complex sounds in macaques (Macaca mullata) and humans. Journal of Comparative Physiology a, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology 186: 903-912, 2000.

Schreiner CE, Read HL, and Sutter ML. Modular organization of frequency integration in primary auditory cortex. Annu Rev Neurosci 23: 501-529, 2000.

Sutter ML, Schreiner CE, McLean M, O'Connor K N, and Loftus WC. Organization of inhibitory frequency receptive fields in cat primary auditory cortex. J Neurophysiol 82: 2358-2371, 1999.

Recanzone GH, Schreiner CE, Sutter ML, Beitel RE, and Merzenich MM. Functional organization of spectral receptive fields in the primary auditory cortex of the owl monkey. J Comp Neurol 415: 460-481, 1999.

O'Connor KN, Barruel P, Hajalilou R, and Sutter ML. Auditory temporal integration in the rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta). J Acoust Soc Am 106: 954-965, 1999.

Mendelson JR, Schreiner CE, and Sutter ML. Functional topography of cat primary auditory cortex: response latencies. J Comp Physiol A 181: 615-633, 1997.

Sutter ML, and Schreiner CE. Topography of intensity tuning in cat primary auditory cortex: single-neuron versus multiple-neuron recordings. J Neurophysiol 73: 190-204, 1995.

Sutter ML, and Margoliash D. Global synchronous response to autogenous song in zebra finch HVc. J Neurophysiol 72: 2105-2123, 1994.

Margoliash D, Fortune ES, Sutter ML, Yu AC, Wren-Hardin BD, and Dave A. Distributed representation in the song system of oscines: evolutionary implications and functional consequences. Brain, behavior and evolution 44: 247-264, 1994.

Mendelson JR, Schreiner CE, Sutter ML, and Grasse KL. Functional topography of cat primary auditory cortex: responses to frequency-modulated sweeps. Exp Brain Res 94: 65-87, 1993.

Schreiner CE, and Sutter ML. Topography of excitatory bandwidth in cat primary auditory cortex: single-neuron versus multiple-neuron recordings. J Neurophysiol 68: 1487-1502, 1992.

Schreiner CE, Mendelson JR, and Sutter ML. Functional topography of cat primary auditory cortex: representation of tone intensity. Exp Brain Res 92: 105-122, 1992.

Sutter ML, and Schreiner CE. Physiology and topography of neurons with multipeaked tuning curves in cat primary auditory cortex. J Neurophysiol 65: 1207-1226, 1991.



Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior