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Neuropsychologia. 2012 Jul;50(8):2026-31. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.05.001. Epub 2012 May 11.

Facilitation of speech repetition accuracy by theta burst stimulation of the left posterior inferior frontal gyrus.

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  • 1Motor Cortex Group, Department of Neurology, Goethe University, Schleusenweg 2-16, Frankfurt am Main D-60528, Germany.


The posterior part of the inferior frontal gyrus (pIFG) in the left hemisphere is thought to form part of the putative human mirror neuron system and is assigned a key role in mapping sensory perception onto motor action. Accordingly, the pIFG is involved in motor imitation of the observed actions of others but it is not known to what extent speech repetition of auditory-presented sentences is also a function of the pIFG. Here we applied fMRI-guided facilitating intermittent theta burst transcranial magnetic stimulation (iTBS), or depressant continuous TBS (cTBS), or intermediate TBS (imTBS) over the left pIFG of healthy subjects and compared speech repetition accuracy of foreign Japanese sentences before and after TBS. We found that repetition accuracy improved after iTBS and, to a lesser extent, after imTBS, but remained unchanged after cTBS. In a control experiment, iTBS was applied over the left middle occipital gyrus (MOG), a region not involved in sensorimotor processing of auditory-presented speech. Repetition accuracy remained unchanged after iTBS of MOG. We argue that the stimulation type and stimulation site specific facilitating effect of iTBS over left pIFG on speech repetition accuracy indicates a causal role of the human left-hemispheric pIFG in the translation of phonological perception to motor articulatory output for repetition of speech. This effect may prove useful in rehabilitation strategies that combine repetitive speech training with iTBS of the left pIFG in speech disorders, such as aphasia after cerebral stroke.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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