Network-Based Asymmetry of the Human Auditory System

Cereb Cortex. 2018 Jul 1;28(7):2655-2664. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhy101.


Converging evidence from activation, connectivity, and stimulation studies suggests that auditory brain networks are lateralized. Here we show that these findings can be at least partly explained by the asymmetric network embedding of the primary auditory cortices. Using diffusion-weighted imaging in 3 independent datasets, we investigate the propensity for left and right auditory cortex to communicate with other brain areas by quantifying the centrality of the auditory network across a spectrum of communication mechanisms, from shortest path communication to diffusive spreading. Across all datasets, we find that the right auditory cortex is better integrated in the connectome, facilitating more efficient communication with other areas, with much of the asymmetry driven by differences in communication pathways to the opposite hemisphere. Critically, the primacy of the right auditory cortex emerges only when communication is conceptualized as a diffusive process, taking advantage of more than just the topologically shortest paths in the network. Altogether, these results highlight how the network configuration and embedding of a particular region may contribute to its functional lateralization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Auditory Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Auditory Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Communication
  • Connectome
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult

Grant support