Assessing the auditory dual-pathway model in humans

Neuroimage. 2004 May;22(1):401-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2004.01.014.


Evidence from anatomical and neurophysiological studies in nonhuman primates suggests a dual-pathway model of auditory processing wherein sound identity and sound location information are segregated along ventral and dorsal streams, respectively. The present meta-analysis reviewed evidence from auditory functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) studies to determine the reliability of this model in humans. Activation coordinates from 11 "spatial" studies (i.e., listeners made localization judgements on sounds that could occur at two or more perceptually different positions) and 27 "nonspatial" studies (i.e., listeners completed nonspatial tasks involving sounds presented from the same location) were entered into the analysis. All but one of the spatial studies reported activation within the inferior parietal lobule as opposed to only 41% of the nonspatial studies. In addition, 55% of spatial studies reported activity around the superior frontal sulcus as opposed to only 7% of the nonspatial studies. In comparison, inferior frontal activity (Brodmann's areas 45 and 47) was reported in only 9% of the spatial studies, but in 56% of the nonspatial studies. Finally, almost all temporal lobe activity observed during spatial tasks was confined to posterior areas, whereas nonspatial activity was distributed throughout the temporal lobe. These results support an auditory dual-pathway model in humans in which nonspatial sound information (e.g., sound identity) is processed primarily along the ventral stream whereas sound location is processed along the dorsal stream and areas posterior to primary auditory cortex.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / anatomy & histology*
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology*
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Haplorhini
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Models, Neurological
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed