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Leftward lateralization of auditory cortex underlies holistic sound perception in Williams syndrome.

Wengenroth M, Blatow M, Bendszus M, Schneider P - PLoS ONE (2010)

Bottom Line: On the structural level, volume of the left auditory cortex was 2.2-fold increased in WS subjects as compared to control subjects.Equivalent volumes of the auditory cortex have been previously reported for professional musicians.Therefore our results not only unravel the neural substrate for this particular auditory phenotype, but in addition propose WS as a unique genetic model for training-independent auditory system properties.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Neuroradiology, University of Heidelberg Medical School, Heidelberg, Germany. martina.wengenroth@med.uni-heidelberg.de

ABSTRACT

Background: Individuals with the rare genetic disorder Williams-Beuren syndrome (WS) are known for their characteristic auditory phenotype including strong affinity to music and sounds. In this work we attempted to pinpoint a neural substrate for the characteristic musicality in WS individuals by studying the structure-function relationship of their auditory cortex. Since WS subjects had only minor musical training due to psychomotor constraints we hypothesized that any changes compared to the control group would reflect the contribution of genetic factors to auditory processing and musicality.

Methodology/principal findings: Using psychoacoustics, magnetoencephalography and magnetic resonance imaging, we show that WS individuals exhibit extreme and almost exclusive holistic sound perception, which stands in marked contrast to the even distribution of this trait in the general population. Functionally, this was reflected by increased amplitudes of left auditory evoked fields. On the structural level, volume of the left auditory cortex was 2.2-fold increased in WS subjects as compared to control subjects. Equivalent volumes of the auditory cortex have been previously reported for professional musicians.

Conclusions/significance: There has been an ongoing debate in the neuroscience community as to whether increased gray matter of the auditory cortex in musicians is attributable to the amount of training or innate disposition. In this study musical education of WS subjects was negligible and control subjects were carefully matched for this parameter. Therefore our results not only unravel the neural substrate for this particular auditory phenotype, but in addition propose WS as a unique genetic model for training-independent auditory system properties.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Increased gray matter volume of the auditory cortex and higher incidence of posterior duplications in WS subjects.(a) Averaged individual AC landmarks and MEG dipoles (filled circles) (b) Probability maps of HG including local duplications anterior to the first complete Heschl's sulcus. The number of overlapping voxels is color coded, i.e. red means that >80% of the brains overlapped in this voxel. (a,b) Plots in xy-Talairach (TAL) stereotaxic coordinates. (c) Morphometry of whole brain (B, light grey), grey matter (GM, medium grey), left HG (blue) and right HG (red) before and after normalization. ACPC =  plane of anterior and posterior commissure; a =  anterior; p =  posterior; r =  right; l =  left; aSTG =  anterior supratemporal gyrus; HG =  Heschl's Gyrus; D =  complete posterior HG duplication; PT =  planum temporale; B =  total brain volume; GM =  gray matter.
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pone-0012326-g004: Increased gray matter volume of the auditory cortex and higher incidence of posterior duplications in WS subjects.(a) Averaged individual AC landmarks and MEG dipoles (filled circles) (b) Probability maps of HG including local duplications anterior to the first complete Heschl's sulcus. The number of overlapping voxels is color coded, i.e. red means that >80% of the brains overlapped in this voxel. (a,b) Plots in xy-Talairach (TAL) stereotaxic coordinates. (c) Morphometry of whole brain (B, light grey), grey matter (GM, medium grey), left HG (blue) and right HG (red) before and after normalization. ACPC =  plane of anterior and posterior commissure; a =  anterior; p =  posterior; r =  right; l =  left; aSTG =  anterior supratemporal gyrus; HG =  Heschl's Gyrus; D =  complete posterior HG duplication; PT =  planum temporale; B =  total brain volume; GM =  gray matter.

Mentions: In keeping with previous volumetric studies by numerous authors [9],[13],[14],[15], the WS group in our experiment exhibited reduced total brain volume by 24%, which was primarily attributable to a disproportionate white matter reduction (Fig. 4c, Table 3). In contrast, the AC of WS subjects showed markedly enhanced gyrification and increased gray matter volume, regarding averaged landmarks (Fig. 4a), probabilistic maps (Fig. 4b) and individual morphology of HG (Fig. 3, 4c).


Leftward lateralization of auditory cortex underlies holistic sound perception in Williams syndrome.

Wengenroth M, Blatow M, Bendszus M, Schneider P - PLoS ONE (2010)

Increased gray matter volume of the auditory cortex and higher incidence of posterior duplications in WS subjects.(a) Averaged individual AC landmarks and MEG dipoles (filled circles) (b) Probability maps of HG including local duplications anterior to the first complete Heschl's sulcus. The number of overlapping voxels is color coded, i.e. red means that >80% of the brains overlapped in this voxel. (a,b) Plots in xy-Talairach (TAL) stereotaxic coordinates. (c) Morphometry of whole brain (B, light grey), grey matter (GM, medium grey), left HG (blue) and right HG (red) before and after normalization. ACPC =  plane of anterior and posterior commissure; a =  anterior; p =  posterior; r =  right; l =  left; aSTG =  anterior supratemporal gyrus; HG =  Heschl's Gyrus; D =  complete posterior HG duplication; PT =  planum temporale; B =  total brain volume; GM =  gray matter.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2925895&req=5

pone-0012326-g004: Increased gray matter volume of the auditory cortex and higher incidence of posterior duplications in WS subjects.(a) Averaged individual AC landmarks and MEG dipoles (filled circles) (b) Probability maps of HG including local duplications anterior to the first complete Heschl's sulcus. The number of overlapping voxels is color coded, i.e. red means that >80% of the brains overlapped in this voxel. (a,b) Plots in xy-Talairach (TAL) stereotaxic coordinates. (c) Morphometry of whole brain (B, light grey), grey matter (GM, medium grey), left HG (blue) and right HG (red) before and after normalization. ACPC =  plane of anterior and posterior commissure; a =  anterior; p =  posterior; r =  right; l =  left; aSTG =  anterior supratemporal gyrus; HG =  Heschl's Gyrus; D =  complete posterior HG duplication; PT =  planum temporale; B =  total brain volume; GM =  gray matter.
Mentions: In keeping with previous volumetric studies by numerous authors [9],[13],[14],[15], the WS group in our experiment exhibited reduced total brain volume by 24%, which was primarily attributable to a disproportionate white matter reduction (Fig. 4c, Table 3). In contrast, the AC of WS subjects showed markedly enhanced gyrification and increased gray matter volume, regarding averaged landmarks (Fig. 4a), probabilistic maps (Fig. 4b) and individual morphology of HG (Fig. 3, 4c).

Bottom Line: On the structural level, volume of the left auditory cortex was 2.2-fold increased in WS subjects as compared to control subjects.Equivalent volumes of the auditory cortex have been previously reported for professional musicians.Therefore our results not only unravel the neural substrate for this particular auditory phenotype, but in addition propose WS as a unique genetic model for training-independent auditory system properties.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Neuroradiology, University of Heidelberg Medical School, Heidelberg, Germany. martina.wengenroth@med.uni-heidelberg.de

ABSTRACT

Background: Individuals with the rare genetic disorder Williams-Beuren syndrome (WS) are known for their characteristic auditory phenotype including strong affinity to music and sounds. In this work we attempted to pinpoint a neural substrate for the characteristic musicality in WS individuals by studying the structure-function relationship of their auditory cortex. Since WS subjects had only minor musical training due to psychomotor constraints we hypothesized that any changes compared to the control group would reflect the contribution of genetic factors to auditory processing and musicality.

Methodology/principal findings: Using psychoacoustics, magnetoencephalography and magnetic resonance imaging, we show that WS individuals exhibit extreme and almost exclusive holistic sound perception, which stands in marked contrast to the even distribution of this trait in the general population. Functionally, this was reflected by increased amplitudes of left auditory evoked fields. On the structural level, volume of the left auditory cortex was 2.2-fold increased in WS subjects as compared to control subjects. Equivalent volumes of the auditory cortex have been previously reported for professional musicians.

Conclusions/significance: There has been an ongoing debate in the neuroscience community as to whether increased gray matter of the auditory cortex in musicians is attributable to the amount of training or innate disposition. In this study musical education of WS subjects was negligible and control subjects were carefully matched for this parameter. Therefore our results not only unravel the neural substrate for this particular auditory phenotype, but in addition propose WS as a unique genetic model for training-independent auditory system properties.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus