Infoscience

Journal article

Human Primary Auditory Cortex Follows the Shape of Heschl's Gyrus

The primary auditory cortex (PAC) is central to human auditory abilities, yet its location in the brain remains unclear. We measured the two largest tonotopic subfields of PAC (hA1 and hR) using high-resolution functional MRI at 7 T relative to the underlying anatomy of Heschl's gyrus (HG) in 10 individual human subjects. The data reveals a clear anatomical-functional relationship that, for the first time, indicates the location of PAC across the range of common morphological variants of HG (single gyri, partial duplications, and complete duplications). In 20/20 individual hemispheres, two primary mirror-symmetric tonotopic maps were clearly observed with gradients perpendicular to HG. PAC spanned both divisions of HG in cases of partial and complete duplications (11/20 hemispheres), not only the anterior division as commonly assumed. Specifically, the central union of the two primary maps (the hA1-R border) was consistently centered on the full Heschl's structure: on the gyral crown of single HGs and within the sulcal divide of duplicated HGs. The anatomical-functional variants of PAC appear to be part of a continuum, rather than distinct subtypes. These findings significantly revise HG as a marker for human PAC and suggest that tonotopic maps may have shaped HG during human evolution. Tonotopic mappings were based on only 16 min of fMRI data acquisition, so these methods can be used as an initial mapping step in future experiments designed to probe the function of specific auditory fields.

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