Article

From phonemes to articulatory codes: an fMRI study of the role of Broca's area in speech production.

Institute for Adaptive and Neural Computation, University of Edinburgh, UK.
Cerebral Cortex (Impact Factor: 8.31). 02/2009; 19(9):2156-65. DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhn239
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the neuroanatomical substrates of phonetic encoding and the generation of articulatory codes from phonological representations. Our focus was on the role of the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) and in particular whether the LIFG plays a role in sublexical phonological processing such as syllabification or whether it is directly involved in phonetic encoding and the generation of articulatory codes. To answer this question, we contrasted the brain activation patterns elicited by pseudowords with high- or low-sublexical frequency components, which we expected would reveal areas related to the generation of articulatory codes but not areas related to phonological encoding. We found significant activation of a premotor network consisting of the dorsal precentral gyrus, the inferior frontal gyrus bilaterally, and the supplementary motor area for low- versus high-sublexical frequency pseudowords. Based on our hypothesis, we concluded that these areas and in particular the LIFG are involved in phonetic and not phonological encoding. We further discuss our findings with respect to the mechanisms of phonetic encoding and provide evidence in support of a functional segregation of the posterior part of Broca's area, the pars opercularis.

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    ABSTRACT: Neuroimaging studies of language have typically focused on either production or comprehension of single speech utterances such as syllables, words, or sentences. In this study we used a new approach to functional MRI acquisition and analysis to characterize the neural responses during production and comprehension of complex real-life speech. First, using a time-warp based intrasubject correlation method, we identified all areas that are reliably activated in the brains of speakers telling a 15-min-long narrative. Next, we identified areas that are reliably activated in the brains of listeners as they comprehended that same narrative. This allowed us to identify networks of brain regions specific to production and comprehension, as well as those that are shared between the two processes. The results indicate that production of a real-life narrative is not localized to the left hemisphere but recruits an extensive bilateral network, which overlaps extensively with the comprehension system. Moreover, by directly comparing the neural activity time courses during production and comprehension of the same narrative we were able to identify not only the spatial overlap of activity but also areas in which the neural activity is coupled across the speaker's and listener's brains during production and comprehension of the same narrative. We demonstrate widespread bilateral coupling between production- and comprehension-related processing within both linguistic and nonlinguistic areas, exposing the surprising extent of shared processes across the two systems.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 09/2014; · 9.81 Impact Factor

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May 27, 2014

Jacco A de Zwart