Extensive cochleotopic mapping of human auditory cortical fields obtained with phase-encoding FMRI

PLoS One. 2011 Mar 23;6(3):e17832. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0017832.


The primary sensory cortices are characterized by a topographical mapping of basic sensory features which is considered to deteriorate in higher-order areas in favor of complex sensory features. Recently, however, retinotopic maps were also discovered in the higher-order visual, parietal and prefrontal cortices. The discovery of these maps enabled the distinction between visual regions, clarified their function and hierarchical processing. Could such extension of topographical mapping to high-order processing regions apply to the auditory modality as well? This question has been studied previously in animal models but only sporadically in humans, whose anatomical and functional organization may differ from that of animals (e.g. unique verbal functions and Heschl's gyrus curvature). Here we applied fMRI spectral analysis to investigate the cochleotopic organization of the human cerebral cortex. We found multiple mirror-symmetric novel cochleotopic maps covering most of the core and high-order human auditory cortex, including regions considered non-cochleotopic, stretching all the way to the superior temporal sulcus. These maps suggest that topographical mapping persists well beyond the auditory core and belt, and that the mirror-symmetry of topographical preferences may be a fundamental principle across sensory modalities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Cochlea / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult