Multiple Bilaterally Asymmetric Cortical Sources Account for the Auditory N1m Component
The hypothesis that the N1, the major negative component of the cortical evoked response to auditory stimuli, originates from the primary auditory cortex has been supported by several studies. In a previous study we showed that, when monaural stimulation with pure tones is used, the distribution of the N1 peak over the scalp could be accounted for by successive activation of adjacent sources on the floor of the Sylvian fissure. In an attempt to establish the generality of the phenomenon, in this study we investigated further the generation of the N1 component using a variety of auditory stimuli, including pure tones, complex sounds (musical notes), and words, as well as binaural stimulus presentation. Additionally, we used a new recording system which allows recording of the distribution of the magnetic flux over the entire head simultaneously, thus eliminating the need for multiple recording sessions and the related problems of habituation and of changes in attention level. We found that a series of single dipolar sources could account for the entire duration of the N1m component. The location of the sources fell within the primary auditory cortex and, during the evolution of the component, they followed a posterior-anterior, medial-lateral, superior-inferior trajectory, bilaterally, along the superior surface of the temporal lobes. Additionally, the distribution of N1 sources on the two hemispheres showed a marked asymmetry, with the right hemisphere sources covering a larger area. The established consistency of successive source excitation across subjects, studies, types of stimuli, and recording systems, as well as the newly demonstrated hemispheric asymmetry of source extent, suggest the presence of a reliable phenomenon indicative of the functional organization of the auditory cortex.
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