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Neuroimage. 2012 Sep;62(3):1825-32. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.05.034. Epub 2012 May 22.

Multisensory speech perception without the left superior temporal sulcus.

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Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Texas Medical School at Houston, TX, USA.


Converging evidence suggests that the left superior temporal sulcus (STS) is a critical site for multisensory integration of auditory and visual information during speech perception. We report a patient, SJ, who suffered a stroke that damaged the left tempo-parietal area, resulting in mild anomic aphasia. Structural MRI showed complete destruction of the left middle and posterior STS, as well as damage to adjacent areas in the temporal and parietal lobes. Surprisingly, SJ demonstrated preserved multisensory integration measured with two independent tests. First, she perceived the McGurk effect, an illusion that requires integration of auditory and visual speech. Second, her perception of morphed audiovisual speech with ambiguous auditory or visual information was significantly influenced by the opposing modality. To understand the neural basis for this preserved multisensory integration, blood-oxygen level dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging (BOLD fMRI) was used to examine brain responses to audiovisual speech in SJ and 23 healthy age-matched controls. In controls, bilateral STS activity was observed. In SJ, no activity was observed in the damaged left STS but in the right STS, more cortex was active in SJ than in any of the normal controls. Further, the amplitude of the BOLD response in right STS response to McGurk stimuli was significantly greater in SJ than in controls. The simplest explanation of these results is a reorganization of SJ's cortical language networks such that the right STS now subserves multisensory integration of speech.

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