characteristic frequency The frequency of a tone (kilohertz) that excites an auditory neuron at the lowest threshold (decibel sound pressure level). Sometimes called the "best" frequency.

cytoarchitecture The structural organization of neuronal cell bodies in the brain as revealed by specific histological staining methods. The cerebral cortex in particular may be subdivided based on cytoarchitectural differences.

decibel (dB) The unit of sound intensity usually expressed as sound pressure level (SPL). Each 10-fold change in sound pressure is a 20-dB change in SPL.

Hertz (Hz) The unit of the frequency of a sound, defined as the number of cycles that a periodic signal undergoes each second. 1 kilohertz (kHz) = 1000 Hz.

Heschl's gyrus A gyrus (or in some cases multiple gyri) on the superior temporal plane that is the location of primary auditory cortex in the human.

response area The area within the threshold tuning curve.

superior temporal plane The dorsal surface of the superior temporal gyrus, buried in the Sylvian fissure, that contains much of auditory cortex in humans and in nonhuman primates.

threshold tuning curve A plot of an auditory neuron's sensitivity to sound frequency. Acoustic threshold (dB) is plotted as a function of stimulus frequency (kHz). The tip of the tuning curve is at the neuron's characteristic frequency.

tonotopy The orderly representation of stimulus frequency in the auditory system; often studied by mapping with a microelectrode the distribution of neurons' characteristic frequencies within an auditory structure.

transduction As related to hearing, it is the process by which sound energy is changed (transduced) into electrical energy (nerve impulses) within the inner ear.

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