Functional and effective connectivity in an fMRI study of an auditory-related task

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This study investigates the sets of brain areas that are functionally connected during an auditory goal-directed task. We used a paradigm including a resting state condition and an active condition, which consisted in active listening to the footsteps of walking humans. The regional brain activity was measured using fMRI and the adjusted values of activity in brain regions involved in the task were analysed using both principal component analysis and structural equation modelling. A first set of connected areas includes regions located in Heschl's gyrus, planum temporale, posterior superior temporal sulcus (in the so-called ‘social cognition’ area), and parietal lobe. This network could be responsible for the perceptual integration of the auditory signal. A second set encompassing frontal regions is related to attentional control. Dorsolateral- and medial-prefrontal cortex have mutual negative influences which are similar to those described during a visual goal-directed task [T. Chaminade & P. Fonlupt (2003)Eur. J. Neurosci., 18, 675–679.]. Moreover, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) exerts a positive influence on the auditory areas during the task, as well as a strong negative influence on the visual areas. These results show that: (i) the negative influence between the medial and lateral parts of the frontal cortex during a goal-directed task is not dependent on the input modality (visual or auditory), and (ii) the DLPFC activates the pathway of the relevant sensory modality and inhibits the nonrelevant sensory modality pathway.

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