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PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e58197. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058197. Epub 2013 Mar 12.

Response-locked brain dynamics of word production.

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  • 1Aix-Marseille Université, CNRS, Marseille, France. stephanie.ries@berkeley.edu

Abstract

The cortical regions involved in the different stages of speech production are relatively well-established, but their spatio-temporal dynamics remain poorly understood. In particular, the available studies have characterized neural events with respect to the onset of the stimulus triggering a verbal response. The core aspect of language production, however, is not perception but action. In this context, the most relevant question may not be how long after a stimulus brain events happen, but rather how long before the production act do they occur. We investigated speech production-related brain activity time-locked to vocal onset, in addition to the common stimulus-locked approach. We report the detailed temporal interplay between medial and left frontal activities occurring shortly before vocal onset. We interpret those as reflections of, respectively, word selection and word production processes. This medial-lateral organization is in line with that described in non-linguistic action control, suggesting that similar processes are at play in word production and non-linguistic action production. This novel view of the brain dynamics underlying word production provides a useful background for future investigations of the spatio-temporal brain dynamics that lead to the production of verbal responses.

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