Mapping tonotopic organization in human temporal cortex: representational similarity analysis in EMEG source space

Li Su*, Isma Zulfiqar, Fawad Jamshed, Elisabeth Fonteneau, William Marslen-Wilson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


A wide variety of evidence, from neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, and imaging studies in humans and animals, suggests that human auditory cortex is in part tonotopically organized. Here we present a new means of resolving this spatial organization using a combination of non-invasive observables (EEG, MEG, and MRI), model-based estimates of spectrotemporal patterns of neural activation, and multivariate pattern analysis. The method exploits both the fine-grained temporal patterning of auditory cortical responses and the millisecond scale temporal resolution of EEG and MEG. Participants listened to 400 English words while MEG and scalp EEG were measured simultaneously. We estimated the location of cortical sources using the MRI anatomically constrained minimum norm estimate (MNE) procedure. We then combined a form of multivariate pattern analysis (representational similarity analysis) with a spatiotemporal searchlight approach to successfully decode information about patterns of neuronal frequency preference and selectivity in bilateral superior temporal cortex. Observed frequency preferences in and around Heschl's gyrus matched current proposals for the organization of tonotopic gradients in primary acoustic cortex, while the distribution of narrow frequency selectivity similarly matched results from the fMRI literature. The spatial maps generated by this novel combination of techniques seem comparable to those that have emerged from fMRI or ECOG studies, and a considerable advance over earlier MEG results.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • MEG, tonotopy, auditory cortex, spatiotemporal searchlight, RSA

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