Heschl's gyrus is more sensitive to tone level than non-primary auditory cortex

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Hart, HC ; Palmer, AR ; Hall, DA (2002)

Previous neuroimaging studies generally demonstrate a growth in the cortical response with an increase in sound level. However, the details of the shape and topographic location of such growth remain largely unknown. One limiting methodological factor has been the relatively sparse sampling of sound intensities. Additionally, most studies have either analysed the entire auditory cortex without differentiating primary and non-primary regions or have limited their analyses to Heschl's gyrus (HG). Here, we characterise the pattern of responses to a 300-Hz tone presented in 6-dB steps from 42 to 96 dB sound pressure level as a function of its sound level, within three anatomically defined auditory areas; the primary area, on HG, and two non-primary areas, consisting of a small area lateral to the axis of HG (the anterior lateral area, ALA) and the posterior part of auditory cortex (the planum temporale, PT). Extent and magnitude of auditory activation increased non-linearly with sound level. In HG, the extent and magnitude were more sensitive to increasing level than in ALA and PT. Thus, HG appears to have a larger involvement in sound-level processing than does ALA or PT.
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