Interindividual functional and structural brain variability is a major problem in group studies, in which very focal activations are expected. Architectonic studies have shown that the human primary auditory area, which is located with a great constancy on Heschl's gyrus, is surrounded by several nonprimary auditory areas with surface areas of 40-310 mm(2). The small size of the latter makes them only partially accessible to fMRI group studies, because of imprecision in realignment when using currently available registration procedures. We describe here a new method for sulcal realignment using a non-rigid local landmark-based registration and show its application to the registration of fMRI acquisitions on the supratemporal plane. After an affine global voxel-based registration, which transforms all brains into the same standard space, we propose a non-rigid local landmark-based registration method based on thin-plate splines for matching the two sulci delimiting Heschl's gyrus of a given brain to the corresponding sulci of a reference brain. We show here that, in comparison with global affine and non-rigid approaches, our method leads in group studies to i) a much more precise alignment of Heschl's gyrus; and ii) a putatively optimal superposition of functionally corresponding areas on and around Heschl's gyrus. (C) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.