Maps of the Auditory Cortex


One of the fundamental properties of the mammalian brain is that sensory regions of cortex are formed of multiple, functionally specialized cortical field maps (CFMs). Each CFM comprises two orthogonal topographical representations, reflecting two essential aspects of sensory space. In auditory cortex, auditory field maps (AFMs) are defined by the combination of tonotopic gradients, representing the spectral aspects of sound (i.e., tones), with orthogonal periodotopic gradients, representing the temporal aspects of sound (i.e., period or temporal envelope). Converging evidence from cytoarchitectural and neuroimaging measurements underlies the definition of 11 AFMs across core and belt regions of human auditory cortex, with likely homology to those of macaque. On a macrostructural level, AFMs are grouped into cloverleaf clusters, an organizational structure also seen in visual cortex. Future research can now use these AFMs to investigate specific stages of auditory processing, key for understanding behaviors such as speech perception and multimodal sensory integration.

Annual Review of Neuroscience