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Amplitopicity of the Human Auditory Cortex: An fMRI Study


Seifritz E, Scheffler,  K
Department High-Field Magnetic Resonance, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Bilecen, D., Seifritz E, Scheffler, K., Hennig, J., & Schulte, A.-C. (2002). Amplitopicity of the Human Auditory Cortex: An fMRI Study. NeuroImage, 17(2), 710-718. doi:10.1006/nimg.2002.1133.

Whereas specialized frequency-encoding patterns in the human auditory cortex are generally accepted, termed tonotopicity, a similar principle of intensity encoding—amplitopicity—is debated controversially. This functional magnetic resonance imaging study describes the relationship of the activation volume and the spatial distribution of activated clusters under different sound pressure levels (SPL) across the temporal plane including the transverse temporal gyrus (TTG). Nine healthy subjects with no hearing deficiencies were investigated using an echo-planar imaging technique at 1.5 T. A boxcar stimulation paradigm was applied with a 5-Hz pulsed sine tone of 1000 Hz frequency at three SPLs of 70, 82, and 90 dB. Linear cross-correlation analysis (correlation coefficient > 0.3 corresponding to P < 0.08) of the functional data set revealed bilateral BOLD response within the auditory cortex of the nine subjects with moderate increase of activation volume for higher sound pressure levels. With increasing sound pressure a two-dimensional drift of cortical activation was observed (a) from the ventral to the dorsal edge and (b) from lateral to medial parts of TTG. This latero-medial drift therefore mimics the well-accepted principle of tonotopy for frequency-encoding neurons. This study demonstrates the existence of an amplitopic pattern of intensity-encoding neuronal clusters that in part resembles the tonotopic distribution of frequency-encoding neurons. This finding has to be integrated into the understanding of the auditory organization for the interpretation of higher auditory functions such as sound perception or speech.