Auditory-motor interaction revealed by fMRI: speech, music, and working memory in area Spt.

University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 4.69). 08/2003; 15(5):673-82. DOI: 10.1162/089892903322307393
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The concept of auditory-motor interaction pervades speech science research, yet the cortical systems supporting this interface have not been elucidated. Drawing on experimental designs used in recent work in sensory-motor integration in the cortical visual system, we used fMRI in an effort to identify human auditory regions with both sensory and motor response properties, analogous to single-unit responses in known visuomotor integration areas. The sensory phase of the task involved listening to speech (nonsense sentences) or music (novel piano melodies); the "motor" phase of the task involved covert rehearsal/humming of the auditory stimuli. A small set of areas in the superior temporal and temporal-parietal cortex responded both during the listening phase and the rehearsal/humming phase. A left lateralized region in the posterior Sylvian fissure at the parietal-temporal boundary, area Spt, showed particularly robust responses to both phases of the task. Frontal areas also showed combined auditory + rehearsal responsivity consistent with the claim that the posterior activations are part of a larger auditory-motor integration circuit. We hypothesize that this circuit plays an important role in speech development as part of the network that enables acoustic-phonetic input to guide the acquisition of language-specific articulatory-phonetic gestures; this circuit may play a role in analogous musical abilities. In the adult, this system continues to support aspects of speech production, and, we suggest, supports verbal working memory.

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