Functional asymmetry in primary auditory cortex for processing musical sounds: temporal pattern analysis of fMRI time series
Hemispheric differences in the temporal processing of musical sounds within the primary auditory cortex were investigated using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) time series analysis on a 3.0 T system in right-handed individuals who had no formal training in music. The two hemispheres exhibited a clear-cut asymmetry in the time pattern of fMRI signals. A large transient signal component was observed in the left primary auditory cortex immediately after the onset of musical sounds, while only sustained activation, without an initial transient component, was seen in the right primary auditory cortex. The observed difference was believed to reflect differential segmentation in primary auditory cortical sound processing. Although the left primary auditory cortex processed the entire 30-s musical sound stimulus as a single event, the right primary auditory cortex had low-level processing of sounds with multiple segmentations of shorter time scales. The study indicated that musical sounds are processed as ‘sounds with contents’, similar to how language is processed in the left primary auditory cortex.