Effect of sound intensity on tonotopic fMRI maps in the unanesthetized monkey

Neuroimage. 2010 Jan 1;49(1):150-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.07.029. Epub 2009 Jul 22.


The monkey's auditory cortex includes a core region on the supratemporal plane (STP) made up of the tonotopically organized areas A1, R, and RT, together with a surrounding belt and a lateral parabelt region. The functional studies that yielded the tonotopic maps and corroborated the anatomical division into core, belt, and parabelt typically used low-amplitude pure tones that were often restricted to threshold-level intensities. Here we used functional magnetic resonance imaging in awake rhesus monkeys to determine whether, and if so how, the tonotopic maps and the pattern of activation in core, belt, and parabelt are affected by systematic changes in sound intensity. Blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) responses to groups of low- and high-frequency pure tones 3-4 octaves apart were measured at multiple sound intensity levels. The results revealed tonotopic maps in the auditory core that reversed at the putative areal boundaries between A1 and R and between R and RT. Although these reversals of the tonotopic representations were present at all intensity levels, the lateral spread of activation depended on sound amplitude, with increasing recruitment of the adjacent belt areas as the intensities increased. Tonotopic organization along the STP was also evident in frequency-specific deactivation (i.e. "negative BOLD"), an effect that was intensity-specific as well. Regions of positive and negative BOLD were spatially interleaved, possibly reflecting lateral inhibition of high-frequency areas during activation of adjacent low-frequency areas, and vice versa. These results, which demonstrate the strong influence of tonal amplitude on activation levels, identify sound intensity as an important adjunct parameter for mapping the functional architecture of auditory cortex.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation*
  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Calibration
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Oxygen / blood


  • Oxygen