Psychophysical experiments show that auditory change detection can be disturbed in situations in which listeners have to monitor complex auditory input. We made use of this change deafness effect to segregate the neural correlates of physical change in auditory input from brain responses related to conscious change perception in an fMRI experiment. Participants listened to two successively presented complex auditory scenes, which consisted of six auditory streams, and had to decide whether scenes were identical or whether the frequency of one stream was changed between presentations. Our results show that physical changes in auditory input, independent of successful change detection, are represented at the level of auditory cortex. Activations related to conscious change perception, independent of physical change, were found in the insula and the ACC. Moreover, our data provide evidence for significant effective connectivity between auditory cortex and the insula in the case of correctly detected auditory changes, but not for missed changes. This underlines the importance of the insula/anterior cingulate network for conscious change detection.

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