Functional anatomy of human auditory attention studied with PET

Neuroimage. 1997 Jan;5(1):63-77. doi: 10.1006/nimg.1996.0252.


Positron emission tomography was used to investigate the functional anatomy of selective auditory attention in 17 right-handed male volunteers who submitted to different tasks: silent rest (REST) listening to frequent low- or rare high-pitched tones (LIS) delivered randomly to the right or the left ear, selective auditory attention where subjects had to attend to deviants in one ear, right (ATTR) or left (ATTL). Six subjects had the series REST, LIS, ATTR twice, eight subjects the series REST, LIS, ATTL, and the last three subjects the sereis REST, ATTR, ATTL. Event-related potentials were simultaneously recorded with PET and showed significant task and electrode site effects on the N100 amplitude. When compared to REST, LIS elicited bilateral temporal activations of the Heschl's gyri and the planum temporale, with a significant rightward asymmetry, and of the posterior part of the superior temporal gyrus. Significant right precentral and anterior cingulate gyri normalized regional cerebral blood flow increases were observed in the frontal lobe. Both the ATTR and the ATTL conditions, compared to LIS, activated the supplementary motor area, bilateral precentral, and left postcentral cortices without any temporal cortex activation. In addition, the ATTL condition resulted in a right prefrontal cortex activation. Pooling the 14 subjects revealed an asymmetry in the superior temporal gyrus favoring the cortex contralateral to the attended ear. Two major networks seem thus to be involved during selective auditory attention: (1) a local temporal network, on which selective attention produces a modulation of the functional lateralization, and (2) a frontal network that could mediate the temporal cortex modulation by attention.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / instrumentation*
  • Dichotic Listening Tests
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology
  • Frontal Lobe / blood supply
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Reference Values
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Temporal Lobe / blood supply
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / instrumentation*