Phonological manipulation between speech perception and production activates a parieto-frontal circuit

Claudia Peschke*, Wolfram Ziegler, Juliane Eisenberger, Annette Baumgaertner

*Corresponding author for this work
32 Citations (Scopus)


Repetition has been shown to activate the so-called 'dorsal stream', a network of temporo-parieto-frontal areas subserving the mapping of acoustic speech input onto articulatory-motor representations. Among these areas, a region in the posterior Sylvian fissure at the temporo-parietal boundary (also called 'area Spt') has been suggested to play a central role particularly with increasing computational demands on phonological processing. Most of the relevant evidence stems from tasks requiring metalinguistic processing. To date, the relevance of area Spt in natural phonological operations based on implicit linguistic knowledge has not yet been investigated. We examined two types of phonological processes assumed to be lateralized differently, i.e., the processing of syllabic stress versus subsyllabic segmental processing. In two ways, subjects modified an auditorily presented pseudoword before reproducing it overtly: (a) by a prosodic manipulation involving a stress shift across syllable boundaries, (b) by a segmental manipulation involving a vowel substitution. Manipulation per se was expected to engage area Spt. Segmental compared to prosodic processing was expected to reveal predominantly left lateralized activation, while prosodic compared to segmental processing was expected to result in bilateral or right-lateralized activation. Contrary to expectation, activation in area Spt did not vary with increased phonological processing demand. Instead, area Spt was engaged regardless of whether subjects simply repeated a pseudoword or performed a phonological manipulation before reproduction. However, for both segmental and prosodic stimuli, reproduction after manipulation (compared to repetition) activated the left intraparietal sulcus and left inferior frontal cortex. We propose that these parieto-frontal regions are recruited when the task requires phonological manipulation over and above the more automated transfer of auditory into articulatory verbal codes, which appears to involve area Spt. When directly contrasted with prosodic manipulation, segmental manipulation resulted in increased activation predominantly in left inferior frontal areas. This may be due to an increased demand on phonological sequencing operations at the subsyllabic phoneme level. Contrasted with segmental manipulations, prosodic manipulation did not result in increased activation, which may be due to a lower degree of morphosyntactic and to syllable-level processing.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)788-799
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 02.01.2012

Research Areas and Centers

  • Health Sciences

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 206-07 Clinical Neurology Neurosurgery and Neuroradiology
  • 206-08 Cognitive and Systemic Human Neuroscience

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