A mediating role of the premotor cortex in phoneme segmentation.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Brain Lang, Volume 111, Issue 1, p.1-7 (2009)


Acoustic Stimulation, Adult, Analysis of Variance, Brain Mapping, Electric Stimulation, Female, Frontal Lobe, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Language, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Reaction Time, Speech Perception, Speech Production Measurement, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Verbal Behavior


<p>Consistent with a functional role of the motor system in speech perception, disturbing the activity of the left ventral premotor cortex by means of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has been shown to impair auditory identification of syllables that were masked with white noise. However, whether this region is crucial for speech perception under normal listening conditions remains debated. To directly test this hypothesis, we applied rTMS to the left ventral premotor cortex and participants performed auditory speech tasks involving the same set of syllables but differing in the use of phonemic segmentation processes. Compared to sham stimulation, rTMS applied over the ventral premotor cortex resulted in slower phoneme discrimination requiring phonemic segmentation. No effect was observed in phoneme identification and syllable discrimination tasks that could be performed without need for phonemic segmentation. The findings demonstrate a mediating role of the ventral premotor cortex in speech segmentation under normal listening conditions and are interpreted in relation to theories assuming a link between perception and action in the human speech processing system.</p>

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