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Cereb Cortex. 2015 Nov;25(11):4284-98. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhu325. Epub 2015 Jan 16.

Neural Systems Involved When Attending to a Speaker.

Author information

1
Computational, Cognitive, and Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory, Division of Brain Sciences, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital Campus, London W12 0NN, UK.
2
Computational, Cognitive, and Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory, Division of Brain Sciences, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital Campus, London W12 0NN, UK Imanova Centre for Imaging Sciences, Hammersmith Hospital Campus, London W12 0NN, UK.

Abstract

Remembering what a speaker said depends on attention. During conversational speech, the emphasis is on working memory, but listening to a lecture encourages episodic memory encoding. With simultaneous interference from background speech, the need for auditory vigilance increases. We recreated these context-dependent demands on auditory attention in 2 ways. The first was to require participants to attend to one speaker in either the absence or presence of a distracting background speaker. The second was to alter the task demand, requiring either an immediate or delayed recall of the content of the attended speech. Across 2 fMRI studies, common activated regions associated with segregating attended from unattended speech were the right anterior insula and adjacent frontal operculum (aI/FOp), the left planum temporale, and the precuneus. In contrast, activity in a ventral right frontoparietal system was dependent on both the task demand and the presence of a competing speaker. Additional multivariate analyses identified other domain-general frontoparietal systems, where activity increased during attentive listening but was modulated little by the need for speech stream segregation in the presence of 2 speakers. These results make predictions about impairments in attentive listening in different communicative contexts following focal or diffuse brain pathology.

KEYWORDS:

attention; cognitive control; functional mRI; right anterior insula; speech

PMID:
25596592
PMCID:
PMC4816781
DOI:
10.1093/cercor/bhu325
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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