Neural responses to non-native phonemes varying in producibility: Evidence for the sensorimotor nature of speech perception

Stephen M. Wilson, Marco Iacoboni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

152 Scopus citations

Abstract

Neural responses to unfamiliar non-native phonemes varying in the extent to which they can be articulated were studied with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Both superior temporal (auditory) and precentral (motor) areas were activated by passive speech perception, and both distinguished non-native from native phonemes, with greater signal change in response to non-native phonemes. Furthermore, speech-responsive motor regions and superior temporal sites were functionally connected. However, only in auditory areas did activity covary with the producibility of non-native phonemes. These data suggest that auditory areas are crucial for the transformation from acoustic signal to phonetic code, but the motor system also plays an active role, which may involve the internal generation of candidate phonemic categorizations. These 'motor' categorizations would then be compared to the acoustic input in auditory areas. The data suggest that speech perception is neither purely sensory nor motor, but rather a sensorimotor process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)316-325
Number of pages10
JournalNeuroImage
Volume33
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 15 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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