Intrahemispheric cortico-cortical connections of the human auditory cortex

Cammoun, Leila ; Thiran, Jean ; Griffa, Alessandra ; Meuli, Reto ; Hagmann, Patric ; Clarke, Stephanie

In: Brain Structure and Function, 2015, vol. 220, no. 6, p. 3537-3553

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    The human auditory cortex comprises the supratemporal plane and large parts of the temporal and parietal convexities. We have investigated the relevant intrahemispheric cortico-cortical connections using in vivo DSI tractography combined with landmark-based registration, automatic cortical parcellation and whole-brain structural connection matrices in 20 right-handed male subjects. On the supratemporal plane, the pattern of connectivity was related to the architectonically defined early-stage auditory areas. It revealed a three-tier architecture characterized by a cascade of connections from the primary auditory cortex to six adjacent non-primary areas and from there to the superior temporal gyrus. Graph theory-driven analysis confirmed the cascade-like connectivity pattern and demonstrated a strong degree of segregation and hierarchy within early-stage auditory areas. Putative higher-order areas on the temporal and parietal convexities had more widely spread local connectivity and long-range connections with the prefrontal cortex; analysis of optimal community structure revealed five distinct modules in each hemisphere. The pattern of temporo-parieto-frontal connectivity was partially asymmetrical. In conclusion, the human early-stage auditory cortical connectivity, as revealed by in vivo DSI tractography, has strong similarities with that of non-human primates. The modular architecture and hemispheric asymmetry in higher-order regions is compatible with segregated processing streams and lateralization of cognitive functions.