Contralateral White Noise Selectively Changes Left Human Auditory Cortex Activity In A Lexical Decision Task
In a previous study, we hypothesized that the approach of presenting information-bearing stimuli to one ear and noise to the other ear may be a general strategy to determine hemispheric specialization in auditory cortex (AC). In that study, we confirmed the dominant role of the right AC in directional categorization of frequency modulations by showing that fMRI activation of right but not left AC was sharply emphasized when masking noise was presented to the contralateral ear. Here, we tested this hypothesis using a lexical decision task supposed to be mainly processed in the left hemisphere. Subjects had to distinguish between pseudowords and natural words presented monaurally to the left or right ear either with or without white noise to the other ear. According to our hypothesis, we expected a strong effect of contralateral noise on fMRI activity in left AC. For the control conditions without noise, we found that activation in both auditory cortices was stronger on contralateral than on ipsilateral word stimulation consistent with a more influential contralateral than ipsilateral auditory pathway. Additional presentation of contralateral noise did not significantly change activation in right AC, whereas it led to a significant increase of activation in left AC compared with the condition without noise. This is consistent with a left hemispheric specialization for lexical decisions. Thus our results support the hypothesis that activation by ipsilateral information-bearing stimuli is upregulated mainly in the hemisphere specialized for a given task when noise is presented to the more influential contralateral ear.