Task-dependent activations of human auditory cortex during pitch discrimination and pitch memory tasks

Teemu Rinne, Sonja Koistinen, Oili Salonen, Kimmo Alho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


"The functional organization of auditory cortex (AC) is still poorly understood. Previous studies suggest segregation of auditory processing streams for spatial and nonspatial information located in the posterior and anterior AC, respectively (Rauschecker and Tian, 2000; Arnott et al., 2004; Lomber and Malhotra, 2008). Furthermore, previous studies have shown that active listening tasks strongly modulate AC activations (Petkov et al., 2004; Fritz et al., 2005; Polley et al., 2006). However, the task dependence of AC activations has not been systematically investigated. In the present study, we applied high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging of the AC and adjacent areas to compare activations during pitch discrimination and n-back pitch memory tasks that were varied parametrically in difficulty. We found that anterior AC activations were increased during discrimination but not during memory tasks, while activations in the inferior parietal lobule posterior to the AC were enhanced during memory tasks but not during discrimination. We also found that wide areas of the anterior AC and anterior insula were strongly deactivated during the pitch memory tasks. While these results are consistent with the proposition that the anterior and posterior AC belong to functionally separate auditory processing streams, our results show that this division is present also between tasks using spatially invariant sounds. Together, our results indicate that activations of human AC are strongly dependent on the characteristics of the behavioral task."
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number42
Pages (from-to)13338-13343
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2009
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 515 Psychology
  • auditory cortex
  • functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • attention
  • working memory
  • pitch

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