In the present study, we applied high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the human auditory cortex (AC) and adjacent areas to compare activations during spatial discrimination and spatial n-back memory tasks that were varied parametrically in difficulty. We found that activations in the anterior superior temporal gyrus (STG) were stronger during spatial discrimination than during spatial memory, while spatial memory was associated with stronger activations in the inferior parietal lobule (IPL). We also found that wide AC areas were strongly deactivated during the spatial memory tasks. The present AC activation patterns associated with spatial discrimination and spatial memory tasks were highly similar to those obtained in our previous study comparing AC activations during pitch discrimination and pitch memory (Rinne et al., 2009). Together our previous and present results indicate that discrimination and memory tasks activate anterior and posterior AC areas differently and that this anterior-posterior division is present both when these tasks are performed on spatially invariant (pitch discrimination vs. memory) or spatially varying (spatial discrimination vs. memory) sounds. These results also further strengthen the view that activations of human AC cannot be explained only by stimulus-level parameters (e.g., spatial vs. nonspatial stimuli) but that the activations observed with fMRI are strongly dependent on the characteristics of the behavioral task. Thus, our results suggest that in order to understand the functional structure of AC a more systematic investigation of task-related factors affecting AC activations is needed.
- Auditory cortex
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging
- Spatial processing