Functional MR of the primary auditory cortex: An analysis of pure tone activation and tone discrimination

John C. Strainer, John L. Ulmer, F. Zerrin Yetkin, Victor M. Haughton, David L. Daniels, Steven J. Millen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Purpose: To use functional MR imaging to measure the effect of frequency (pitch), intensity (loudness), and complexity of auditory stimuli on activation in the primary and secondary auditory cortexes. METHODS: Multiplanar echo-planar images were acquired in healthy subjects with normal hearing to whom auditory stimuli were presented intermittent. Functional images were processed from the echo-planar images with conventional postprocessing methods. The stimuli included pure tones with a single frequency and intensity, pure tones with the frequency stepped between 1000, 2000, 3000, or 4000 Hz, and spoken text. The pixels activated by each task in the transverse temporal gyrus (TTG) and the auditory association areas were tabulated. RESULTS: The pure tone task activated the TTG. The 1000-Hz tone activated significantly more pixels in the TTG than did the 4000-Hz tone. The 4000-Hz tone activated pixels primarily in the medial TTG, whereas the 1000- Hz tone activated more pixels in the lateral TTG. Higher intensity tones activated significantly more pixels than did lower intensity tones at the same frequency. The stepped tones activated more pixels than the pure tones, but the difference was not significant. The text task produced significantly more activation than did the pure tones in the TTG and in the auditory association areas. The more complex tasks (stepped tones and listening to text) tended to activate more pixels in the left hemisphere than in the right, whereas the simpler tasks activated similar numbers of pixels in each hemisphere. CONCLUSION: Auditory stimuli activate the TTG and the association areas. Activation in the primary auditory cortex depends on frequency, intensity, and complexity of the auditory stimulus. Activation of the auditory association areas requires more complex auditory stimuli, such as the stepped tone task of text reading.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-610
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 1997


  • Hearing
  • Magnetic resonance, functional

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology


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