Patterns of calcium-binding proteins support parallel and hierarchical organization of human auditory areas.
The human primary auditory cortex (AI) is surrounded by several other auditory areas, which can be identified by cyto-, myelo- and chemoarchitectonic criteria. We report here on the pattern of calcium-binding protein immunoreactivity within these areas. The supratemporal regions of four normal human brains (eight hemispheres) were processed histologically, and serial sections were stained for parvalbumin, calretinin or calbindin. Each calcium-binding protein yielded a specific pattern of labelling, which differed between auditory areas. In AI, defined as area TC [see C. von Economo and L. Horn (1930) Z. Ges. Neurol. Psychiatr.,130, 678-757], parvalbumin labelling was dark in layer IV; several parvalbumin-positive multipolar neurons were distributed in layers III and IV. Calbindin yielded dark labelling in layers I-III and V; it revealed numerous multipolar and pyramidal neurons in layers II and III. Calretinin labelling was lighter than that of parvalbumin or calbindin in AI; calretinin-positive bipolar and bitufted neurons were present in supragranular layers. In non-primary auditory areas, the intensity of labelling tended to become progressively lighter while moving away from AI, with qualitative differences between the cytoarchitectonically defined areas. In analogy to non-human primates, our results suggest differences in intrinsic organization between auditory areas that are compatible with parallel and hierarchical processing of auditory information.