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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008;32(1):123-42. Epub 2007 Jul 6.

The superior temporal sulcus performs a common function for social and speech perception: implications for the emergence of autism.

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Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, 8110 La Jolla Shores Dr., Suite 201, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Within the cognitive neuroscience literature, discussion of the functional role of the superior temporal sulcus (STS) has traditionally been divided into two domains; one focuses on its activity during language processing while the other emphasizes its role in biological motion and social attention, such as eye gaze processing. I will argue that a common process underlying both of these functional domains is performed by the STS, namely analyzing changing sequences of input, either in the auditory or visual domain, and interpreting the communicative significance of those inputs. From a developmental perspective, the fact that these two domains share an anatomical substrate suggests the acquisition of social and speech perception may be linked. In addition, I will argue that because of the STS' role in interpreting social and speech input, impairments in STS function may underlie many of the social and language abnormalities seen in autism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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