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Cereb Cortex. 2014 Sep;24(9):2350-61. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bht083. Epub 2013 Apr 12.

The pathways for intelligible speech: multivariate and univariate perspectives.

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Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge CB2 7EF, UK.
Department of Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences.
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, University Medical School, Geneva CH-1211, Switzerland.
Computational, Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory, Imperial College London, London W12 0NN, UK.
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway University, University of London, Egham TW20 0EX, UK and.
Department of Computer Science, Centre for Computational Statistics and Machine Learning, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London SE5 8AF, UK.
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.


An anterior pathway, concerned with extracting meaning from sound, has been identified in nonhuman primates. An analogous pathway has been suggested in humans, but controversy exists concerning the degree of lateralization and the precise location where responses to intelligible speech emerge. We have demonstrated that the left anterior superior temporal sulcus (STS) responds preferentially to intelligible speech (Scott SK, Blank CC, Rosen S, Wise RJS. 2000. Identification of a pathway for intelligible speech in the left temporal lobe. Brain. 123:2400-2406.). A functional magnetic resonance imaging study in Cerebral Cortex used equivalent stimuli and univariate and multivariate analyses to argue for the greater importance of bilateral posterior when compared with the left anterior STS in responding to intelligible speech (Okada K, Rong F, Venezia J, Matchin W, Hsieh IH, Saberi K, Serences JT,Hickok G. 2010. Hierarchical organization of human auditory cortex: evidence from acoustic invariance in the response to intelligible speech. 20: 2486-2495.). Here, we also replicate our original study, demonstrating that the left anterior STS exhibits the strongest univariate response and, in decoding using the bilateral temporal cortex, contains the most informative voxels showing an increased response to intelligible speech. In contrast, in classifications using local "searchlights" and a whole brain analysis, we find greater classification accuracy in posterior rather than anterior temporal regions. Thus, we show that the precise nature of the multivariate analysis used will emphasize different response profiles associated with complex sound to speech processing.


fMRI; intelligibility; multivariate pattern analysis; speech perception; superior temporal sulcus

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