Lateralization of ventral and dorsal auditory-language pathways in the human brain

Neuroimage. 2005 Feb 1;24(3):656-66. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2004.08.047. Epub 2004 Dec 8.


Recent electrophysiological investigations of the auditory system in primates along with functional neuroimaging studies of auditory perception in humans have suggested there are two pathways arising from the primary auditory cortex. In the primate brain, a 'ventral' pathway is thought to project anteriorly from the primary auditory cortex to prefrontal areas along the superior temporal gyrus while a separate 'dorsal' route connects these areas posteriorly via the inferior parietal lobe. We use diffusion MRI tractography, a noninvasive technique based on diffusion-weighted MRI, to investigate the possibility of a similar pattern of connectivity in the human brain for the first time. The dorsal pathway from Wernicke's area to Broca's area is shown to include the arcuate fasciculus and connectivity to Brodmann area 40, lateral superior temporal gyrus (LSTG), and lateral middle temporal gyrus. A ventral route between Wernicke's area and Broca's area is demonstrated that connects via the external capsule/uncinate fasciculus and the medial superior temporal gyrus. Ventral connections are also observed in the lateral superior and middle temporal gyri. The connections are stronger in the dominant hemisphere, in agreement with previous studies of functional lateralization of auditory-language processing.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Language*
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology