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Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 1994 Jul;2(1):31-8.

Effects of stimulus rate on signal response during functional magnetic resonance imaging of auditory cortex.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 53226.


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) detects focal MRI signal changes in brain tissue that are believed to result from changes in neuronal activity. We describe the dependence of this response in auditory cortex on the rate of presentation of simple speech stimuli. Speech syllables were presented to five normal subjects at rates ranging from 0.17 to 2.5 Hz, while the subjects performed a phoneme discrimination task. Regions studied with FMRI during this task included the lateral aspect of both temporal lobes. All subjects showed bilateral superior temporal lobe MRI signal increases that were coincident with stimulus presentation and performance of the task. The magnitude of this response increased in a monotonic, non-linear manner with increasing stimulus rate. This rate-response relationship was nearly identical in right and left hemispheres. The relationship may reflect metabolic activity integrated over time and subject to non-linear characteristics of neuronal recovery or blood flow regulation. The dependence of response magnitude on stimulation rate supports the hypothesis that the FMRI phenomenon indirectly reflects neuronal metabolic activity. The measures provided here should assist in the design of optimal activation strategies for the human auditory cortex.

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