The transverse temporal gyrus of Heschl contains the human auditory cortex. Several schematic maps of the cytoarchitectonic correlate of this functional entity are available, but they present partly conflicting data (number and position of borders of the primary auditory areas) and they do not enable reliable comparisons with functional imaging data in a common spatial reference system. In order to provide a 3-D data set of the precise position and extent of the human primary auditory cortex, its putative subdivisions, and its topographical intersubject variability, we performed a quantitative cytoarchitectonic analysis of 10 brains using a recently established technique for observer-independent definition of areal borders. Three areas, Te1.1, Te1.0, and Te1.2, with a well-developed layer IV, which represent the primary auditory cortex (Brodmann area 41), can be identified along the mediolateral axis of the Heschl gyrus. The cell density was significantly higher in Te1.1 compared to Te1.2 in the left but not in the right hemisphere. The cytoarchitectonically defined areal borders of the primary auditory cortex do not consistently match macroanatomic landmarks like gyral and sulcal borders. The three primary auditory areas of each postmortem brain were mapped to a spatial reference system which is based on a brain registered by in vivo magnetic resonance imaging. The integration of a sample of postmortem brains in a spatial reference system allows one to estimate the spatial variability of each cytoarchitectonically defined region with respect to this reference system. In future, the transfer of in vivo structural and functional data into the same spatial reference system will enable accurate comparisons of cytoarchitectonic maps of the primary auditory cortex with activation centers as established with functional imaging procedures.
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