Jacques Pesnot Lerousseau, Agnès Trébuchon, Benjamin Morillon, & Daniele Schön
Cortical oscillations have been proposed to play a functional role in speech and music perception, attentional selection, and working memory, via the mechanism of neural entrainment. One of the properties of neural entrainment that is often taken for granted is that its modulatory effect on ongoing oscillations outlasts rhythmic stimulation. We tested the existence of this phenomenon by studying cortical neural oscillations during and after presentation of melodic stimuli in a passive perception paradigm. Melodies were composed of ∼60 and ∼80 Hz tones embedded in a 2.5 Hz stream. Using intracranial and surface recordings in male and female humans, we reveal persistent oscillatory activity in the high-γ band in response to the tones throughout the cortex, well beyond auditory regions. By contrast, in response to the 2.5 Hz stream, no persistent activity in any frequency band was observed. We further show that our data are well captured by a model of damped harmonic oscillator and can be classified into three classes of neural dynamics, with distinct damping properties and eigenfrequencies. This model provides a mechanistic and quantitative explanation of the frequency selectivity of auditory neural entrainment in the human cortex.