Cortical representations of communication sounds.
ABSTRACT This review summarizes recent research into cortical processing of vocalizations in animals and humans. There has been a resurgent interest in this topic accompanied by an increased number of studies using animal models with complex vocalizations and new methods in human brain imaging. Recent results from such studies are discussed.
Experiments have begun to reveal the bilateral cortical fields involved in communication sound processing and the transformations of neural representations that occur among those fields. Advances have also been made in understanding the neuronal basis of interaction between developmental exposures and behavioral experiences with vocalization perception. Exposure to sounds during the developmental period produces large effects on brain responses, as do a variety of specific trained tasks in adults. Studies have also uncovered a neural link between the motor production of vocalizations and the representation of vocalizations in cortex.
Parallel experiments in humans and animals are answering important questions about vocalization processing in the central nervous system. This dual approach promises to reveal microscopic, mesoscopic, and macroscopic principles of large-scale dynamic interactions between brain regions that underlie the complex phenomenon of vocalization perception. Such advances will yield a greater understanding of the causes, consequences, and treatment of disorders related to speech processing.
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ABSTRACT: In individuals who stutter (IWS), speech fluency can be enhanced by altered auditory feedback, although it has adverse effects in control speakers. This indicates abnormalities in the auditory feedback loop in stuttering. Current motor control theories on stuttering propose an impaired processing of internal forward models that might be related to a blurred auditory-to-motor translation. Although speech sound perception is an essential skill to form internal models, perceptual acuity has not been studied in IWS so far. The authors tested the stability of phoneme percepts by analyzing participants' ability to identify voiced and voiceless stop consonants. Two syllable continua were generated by systematic modification of the voice onset time. The authors determined speech perceptual acuity by means of discriminatory power in 25 IWS and 24 matched control participants by determining the phoneme boundaries and by quantifying the interval of voice onset times for which phonemes were perceived ambiguously. In IWS, discriminatory performance was weaker and less stable over time when compared with control participants. In addition, phoneme boundaries were located at longer voice onset times in IWS. Persistent developmental stuttering is associated with less reliable phonological percepts, supporting current theories regarding the sensory-motor interaction in human speech.Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research 02/2012; 55(1):276-89. DOI:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0224) · 1.93 Impact Factor