Non-human-primate fMRI is becoming increasingly recognised as the missing link between the widely applied methods of human imaging and intracortical animal electrophysiology. A crucial requirement for the optimal application of this method is the precise knowledge of the time course of the Blood Oxygenation Level Dependent (BOLD) signal. We mapped the BOLD signal time course in the inferior colliculus (IC), medial geniculate body (MGB) and in tonotopically defined fields in the auditory cortex of two macaques. The results show little differences in the BOLD-signal time courses within the auditory pathway. However, we observed systematic differences in the magnitude of the change in the BOLD signal with significantly stronger signal changes in field A1 of the auditory cortex compared to field R. The measured time course of the signal was in good agreement with similar studies in human auditory cortex but showed considerable differences to data reported from macaque visual cortex. Consistent with the studies in humans we measured a peak in the BOLD response around 4 s after the onset of 2-s broadband noise stimuli while previous studies recorded from the primary visual cortex of the same species reported the earliest peaks to short visual stimuli several seconds later. The comparison of our results with previous studies does not support differences in haemodynamic responses within the auditory system between human and non-human primates. Furthermore, the data will aid optimal design of future auditory fMRI studies in non-human primates.
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