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Structural asymmetries in the supratemporal plane of the human brain are often cited as the anatomical basis for the lateralization of language predominantly to the left hemisphere. However, similar asymmetries are found for structures mediating earlier events in the auditory processing stream, suggesting that functional lateralization may occur even at the level of primary auditory cortex. We tested this hypothesis using functional magnetic resonance imaging to evaluate human auditory cortex responses to monaurally presented tones. Relative to silence, tones presented separately to either ear produced greater activation in left than right Heschl's gyrus, the location of primary auditory cortex. This functional lateralization for primary auditory cortex is distinct from the contralateral dominance reported for other mammals, including nonhuman primates, and may have contributed to the evolution of a unique role for the left hemisphere in language processing.


Journal article


J Neurosci

Publication Date





11516 - 11522


Adult, Auditory Cortex, Auditory Perception, Female, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male