There has been much debate recently over the functional role played by the planum temporale (PT) within the context of the dorsal auditory processing stream. Some studies indicate that regions in the PT support spatial hearing and other auditory functions, whereas others demonstrate sensory-motor response properties. This multifunctionality has led to the claim that the PT is performing a common computational pattern matching operation, then routing the signals (spatial, object, sensory-motor) into an appropriate processing stream. An alternative possibility is that the PT is functionally subdivided with separate regions supporting various functions. We assess this possibility using a within subject fMRI block design. DTI data were also collected to examine connectivity. There were four auditory conditions: stationary noise, moving noise, listening to pseudowords, and shadowing pseudowords (covert repetition). Contrasting the shadow and listen conditions should activate regions specific to sensory-motor processes, while contrasting the stationary and moving noise conditions should activate regions involved in spatial hearing. Subjects (N = 16) showed greater activation for shadowing in left posterior PT, area Spt, when the shadow and listen conditions were contrasted. The motion vs. stationary noise contrast revealed greater activation in a more medial and anterior portion of left PT. Seeds from these two contrasts were then used to guide the DTI analysis in an examination of connectivity via streamline tractography, which revealed different patterns of connectivity. Findings support a heterogeneous model of the PT, with functionally distinct regions for sensory-motor integration and processes involved in auditory spatial perception.
Copyright © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.