Functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) is a new noninvasive technique for imaging cerebral function. Studies of the human central auditory pathway examined responses in eight normal hearing volunteers following auditory stimuli, including narrative speech and pure-tone audiometry. The activation demonstrated by FMRI is modeled on an increase in regional blood flow with increased neuronal activity. The FMRI signals represent deoxyhemoglobin concentration changes in capillaries within the region of the brain that is activated. Brain activation was imaged in the superior temporal gyrus during text reading and pure tones. Activation in both text and pure-tone presentation did not vary with the intensity of the auditory stimulus and elicited a dominant response in the left temporal lobe. These observations demonstrate the capability of FMRI to correlate anatomic and functional relationships in the human central auditory pathway.
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