The frontotemporal organization of the arcuate fasciculus and its relationship with speech perception in young and older amateur singers and non-singers.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Hum Brain Mapp, Volume 42, Issue 10, p.3058-3076 (2021)


<p>The ability to perceive speech in noise (SPiN) declines with age. Although the etiology of SPiN decline is not well understood, accumulating evidence suggests a role for the dorsal speech stream. While age-related decline within the dorsal speech stream would negatively affect SPiN performance, experience-induced neuroplastic changes within the dorsal speech stream could positively affect SPiN performance. Here, we investigated the relationship between SPiN performance and the structure of the arcuate fasciculus (AF), which forms the white matter scaffolding of the dorsal speech stream, in aging singers and non-singers. Forty-three non-singers and 41 singers aged 20 to 87 years old completed a hearing evaluation and a magnetic resonance imaging session that included High Angular Resolution Diffusion Imaging. The groups were matched for sex, age, education, handedness, cognitive level, and musical instrument experience. A subgroup of participants completed syllable discrimination in the noise task. The AF was divided into 10 segments to explore potential local specializations for SPiN. The results show that, in carefully matched groups of singers and non-singers (a) myelin and/or axonal membrane deterioration within the bilateral frontotemporal AF segments are associated with SPiN difficulties in aging singers and non-singers; (b) the structure of the AF is different in singers and non-singers; (c) these differences are not associated with a benefit on SPiN performance for singers. This study clarifies the etiology of SPiN difficulties by supporting the hypothesis for the role of aging of the dorsal speech stream.</p>

Funding / Support / Partners

logo FRQ-S logo ctrn logo fci logo cihr irsc logo nserc logo MESISentinelle nord