Function and connectivity in human primary auditory cortex: a combined fMRI and DTI study at 3 Tesla

Cereb Cortex. 2007 Oct;17(10):2420-32. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhl150. Epub 2006 Dec 26.


Human primary auditory cortex (PAC) is functionally organized in a tonotopic manner. Past studies have used neuroimaging to characterize tonotopic organization in PAC and found similar organization as that described in mammals. In contrast to what is known about PAC in primates and nonprimates, in humans, the structural connectivity within PAC has not been defined. In this study, stroboscopic event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was utilized to reveal mirror symmetric tonotopic organization consisting of a high-low-high frequency gradient in PAC. Furthermore, diffusion tensor tractography and probabilistic mapping was used to study projection patterns within tonotopic areas. Based on earlier physiological and histological work in nonhuman PAC, we hypothesized the existence of cross-field isofrequency (homotopic) and within-field non-isofrequency (heterotopic)-specific axonal projections in human PAC. The presence of both projections types was found in all subjects. Specifically, the number of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) reconstructed fibers projecting between high- and low-frequency regions was greater than those fibers projecting between 2 high-frequency areas, the latter of which are located in distinct auditory fields. The fMRI and DTI results indicate that functional and structural properties within early stages of the auditory processing stream are preserved across multiple mammalian species at distinct evolutionary levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Auditory Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • Probability
  • Software