Hemispheric shifts of sound representation in auditory cortex with conceptual listening.
The weak field specificity and the heterogeneity of neuronal filters found in any given auditory cortex field does not substantiate the view that such fields are merely descriptive maps of sound features. But field mechanisms were previously shown to support behaviourally relevant classification of sounds. Here the prediction was tested in human auditory cortex (AC) that classification-tasks rather than the stimulus class per se determine which auditory cortex area is recruited. By presenting the same set of frequency-modulations we found that categorization of their pitch direction (rising versus falling) increased functional magnetic resonance imaging activation in right posterior AC compared with stimulus exposure and in contrast to left posterior AC dominance during categorization of their duration (short versus long). Thus, top-down influences appear to select not only auditory cortex areas but also the hemisphere for specific processing.