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Hum Brain Mapp. 2008 Jan;29(1):46-56.

Silent and continuous fMRI scanning differentially modulate activation in an auditory language comprehension task.

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  • 1Institute for Biomedical Engineering, University and ETH, Zurich, Switzerland.


Sparse temporal acquisition schemes have been adopted to investigate the neural correlates of human audition using blood-oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) based functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) devoid of ambient confounding acoustic scanner noise. These schemes have previously been extended to clustered-sparse temporal acquisition designs which record several subsequent BOLD contrast images in rapid succession in order to enhance temporal sampling efficiency. In the present study we demonstrate that an event-related task design can effectively be combined with a clustered temporal acquisition technique in an auditory language comprehension task. The same fifteen volunteers performed two separate auditory runs which either applied customary fMRI acquisition (CA) composed of continuous scanner noise or "silent" fMRI built on a clustered temporal acquisition (CTA) protocol. In accord with our hypothesis, the CTA scheme relative to the CA protocol is accompanied by significantly stronger functional responses along the entire superior temporal plane. By contrast, the bilateral insulae engage more strongly during continuous scanning. A post-hoc region-of-interest analysis reveals cortical activation in subportions of the supratemporal plane which varies as a function of acquisition protocol. The middle part of the supratemporal plane shows a rightward asymmetry only for the CTA scheme while the posterior supratemporal plane exposes a significantly stronger leftward asymmetry during the CTA. Our findings implicate that silent fMRI is advantageous when it comes to the exploration of auditory and speech functions residing in the supratemporal plane.

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