Generators of middle- and long-latency auditory evoked potentials: implications from studies of patients with bitemporal lesions

Abstract:

We recorded middle- and long-latency auditory evoked potentials (AEPs) in 5 patients (ages 39-72 years) with bilateral lesions of the superior temporal plane. Reconstructions of CT sections revealed that primary auditory cortex had been damaged bilaterally in four of the patients, while in the fifth an extensive left hemisphere lesion included primary auditory cortex while a right hemisphere lesion had damaged anterior auditory association areas but spared primary auditory cortex. Normal middle-latency AEPs (MAEPs) were recorded at the vertex electrode in all of the patients. In 3 of the 5 patients, MAEPs also showed normal coronal scalp distributions and were comparable in amplitude following stimulation of either ear. Two patients showed abnormalities. In one case, Na (latency 17 msec)-Pa (latency 30 msec) amplitudes were reduced over both hemispheres following stimulation of the ear contralateral to the more extensive lesion. In another, with both subcortical and cortical involvement, the Pa was abolished over the hemisphere with the more extensive lesion. Long-latency AEPs were normal in 2 patients whose lesions were largely confined to the superior temporal plane. In 2 patients with lesions extending into the inferior parietal lobe, N1s were abolished bilaterally. In the fifth patient, the N1 showed a slight reduction over the hemisphere with the more extensive lesion. Middle- and long-latency AEPs were differentially affected by some lesions. For example, patients with absent N1s could produce normal Pas. A review of these results and those of previous studies of bitemporal patients suggests that abnormalities in middle- and long-latency AEPs do not necessarily reflect damage to primary auditory cortex per se, but rather the degree of damage to adjacent areas. Abnormalities in MAEPs are associated with subcortical lesions, or cortical lesions extensive enough to denervate thalamic projection nuclei. Abnormalities in the long-latency N1 reflect lesion extension into the multi-modal areas of the inferior parietal lobule. This area appears to exert a critical modulatory influence over N1 generators outside of the superior temporal plane.