Information encoding has received a wide neuroscientific attention, but the underlying rapid spatiotemporal brain dynamics remain largely unknown. Here, we investigated the rapid brain mechanisms for encoding of sounds forming a complex temporal sequence. Specifically, we used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to record the brain activity of 68 participants while they listened to a highly structured musical prelude. Functional connectivity analyses performed using phase synchronisation and graph theoretical measures showed a large network of brain areas recruited during encoding of sounds, comprising primary and secondary auditory cortices, frontal operculum, insula, hippocampus and basal ganglia. Moreover, our results highlighted the rapid transition of brain activity from primary auditory cortex to higher order association areas including insula and superior temporal pole within a whole-brain network, occurring during the first 220 ms of the encoding process. Further, we discovered that individual differences along cognitive abilities and musicianship modulated the degree centrality of the brain areas implicated in the encoding process. Indeed, participants with higher musical expertise presented a stronger centrality of superior temporal gyrus and insula, while individuals with high working memory abilities showed a stronger centrality of frontal operculum. In conclusion, our study revealed the rapid unfolding of brain network dynamics responsible for the encoding of sounds and their relationship with individual differences, showing a complex picture which extends beyond the well-known involvement of auditory areas. Indeed, our results expanded our understanding of the general mechanisms underlying auditory pattern encoding in the human brain.
Brain dynamics, Magnetoencephalography (MEG), Memory, Sound encoding, Whole-brain functional connectivity