Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 223, Issue 1, pp 221–232 | Cite as

Anatomo-functional correspondence in the superior temporal sulcus

  • C. BodinEmail author
  • S. Takerkart
  • P. Belin
  • O. Coulon
Original Article


The superior temporal sulcus (STS) is an intriguing region both for its complex anatomy and for the multiple functions that it hosts. Unfortunately, most studies explored either the functional organization or the anatomy of the STS only. Here, we link these two aspects by investigating anatomo-functional correspondences between the voice-sensitive cortex (Temporal Voice Areas) and the STS depth. To do so, anatomical and functional scans of 116 subjects were processed such as to generate individual surface maps on which both depth and functional voice activity can be analyzed. Individual depth profiles of manually drawn STS and functional profiles from a voice localizer (voice > non-voice) maps were extracted and compared to assess anatomo-functional correspondences. Three major results were obtained: first, the STS exhibits a highly significant rightward depth asymmetry in its middle part. Second, there is an anatomo-functional correspondence between the location of the voice-sensitive peak and the deepest point inside this asymmetrical region bilaterally. Finally, we showed that this correspondence was independent of the gender and, using a machine learning approach, that it existed at the individual level. These findings offer new perspectives for the understanding of anatomo-functional correspondences in this complex cortical region.


STS Anatomo-functional Sulcal depth Temporal voice areas 



We gratefully acknowledge the support of Grant AJE201214 by the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale (France) to P.B, and of Labex BLRI (Aix-Marseille Universtité, France) to CB. Research supported by Grants ANR-16-CONV-0002 (ILCB), ANR-11-LABX-0036 (BLRI) and ANR-11-IDEX-0001-02 (A*MIDEX).

Supplementary material

429_2017_1483_MOESM1_ESM.png (494 kb)
Figure A: All > Silence contrast analysis. Top panel: Averaged surface-based functional maps of the All > silence contrast projected on the HipHop138 template for the left (L) and right (R) hemisphere. The color bar indicates the mean t value of the functional activity. Lower panel: Anatomical (black dotted line) and functional averaged profiles (blue line for upper profile and green line for lower profile (± SEM)) were represented together with the STAP region (orange overlay). The stars line indicates the significant upper-lower differences along the STS (Mann–Whitney, p < 0.05 Bonferroni corrected). (PNG 494 kb)
429_2017_1483_MOESM2_ESM.png (73 kb)
Figure B: Effect of the integration distance on the anatomo-functional correspondence. Functional averaged profiles were computed with different distances of integration from the STS fundus (from 5 to 30 mm), represented by the different colored lines. STS depth (right vertical axis) was also plotted in order to see the anatomo-functional correspondence. Observation of functional curves of the right hemisphere indicates that functional activity is maximal around 25 mm from the sulcal fundus both for the upper and lower banks of the STS. This corresponds to the maximal depth of the STS in this same region, meaning that functional peaks are located on the top of the STS banks, i.e., STG and MTG on the right hemisphere. On the left hemisphere, functional activity is maximal around 25 mm on the upper bank, and around 5 mm on the lower bank. Given that sulcal depth doesn’t exceed 15 mm in this region, the maximal activity is located on the STG and beyond, and also near the sulcal fundus on the left hemisphere. This is in agreement with maps on Fig. 3. The distance (25 mm) chosen in this paper was represented by a thicker blue line. This distance was chosen because it captured the entire functional information in both hemispheres: from 5 to 25 mm the functional activity is increasing, but from 25 to 30 mm no such addition is noticed. Lupper: left upper functional profile; Llower: left lower functional profile; Rupper: right upper functional profile; Rlower: right lower functional profile. MTG: middle temporal gyrus; STG: superior temporal gyrus. (PNG 72 kb)
429_2017_1483_MOESM3_ESM.png (92 kb)
Figure C: Flow chart summarizing how many subjects was analyzed for each stage of the procedure (A, B, C). From the initial 116 subjects, two subjects were removed because of a segmentation problem that was specific to their images and 19 were removed due to a failure of the profile extraction algorithm that met complex triangle configurations on the cortical surface mesh. Amongst the 95 subjects left, 21 were discarded during functional profile extraction. This problem was due to a memory leak in the HipHop process (BrainVisa 4.5), that was used to compute the orthogonal direction to the sulcus (page 8 in the manuscript), and had no consequence on the quality of the results for remaining subjects. Both problems occurred most of the time on only one of the two hemispheres of each subject, but such subjects had to be entirely discarded of the analysis in order to keep a consistent set with no missing data. (PNG 92 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut de Neurosciences de la Timone, CNRS UMR7289, Aix-Marseille UniversitéMarseilleFrance
  2. 2.Institute for Language, Communication and the BrainAix-Marseille UniversitéMarseilleFrance
  3. 3.Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging, Institute of Neuroscience and PsychologyUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  4. 4.International Laboratories for Brain, Music and Sound, Department of PsychologyUniversity of Montréal, McGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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