Tonotopic organization of the human auditory cortex as detected by BOLD-FMRI

Hear Res. 1998 Dec;126(1-2):19-27. doi: 10.1016/s0378-5955(98)00139-7.


Functional magnetic resonance imaging is a noninvasive and nonradioactive method for the detection of focal brain activity. In the present study the auditory cortex was investigated in nine normal subjects who were binaurally stimulated using pulsed sine tones of 500 Hz and 4000 Hz. The BOLD (blood oxygenation level dependent) signal change coincided with the stimulation paradigm and was detected in the plane of the superior temporal gyrus. The comparison of the spatial distribution of activated areas revealed a different behavior for the two frequencies. The present findings underline the existence of a frequency specific organization in the medio-lateral, fronto-occipital and cranio-caudal extension in both hemispheres of the auditory cortex in human. The activated areas for the high tone were found more frontally and medially orientated than the low tone stimulated areas. Furthermore, a slight cranio-caudal shift was observed for the higher frequency, more pronounced in the right than in the left temporal lobe. Finally, for most of the subjects investigated the BOLD activation area of the 500 Hz sine tone was larger than that of the 4000 Hz stimulation. Both frequencies showed a lateralization of signal response to the left temporal lobe.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Adult
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Oxygen / blood*


  • Oxygen