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Neocortical activity tracks syllable and phrasal structure of self-produced speech

By Mathieu Bourguignon, Nicola Molinaro, Mikel Lizarazu, Samu Taulu, Veikko Jousmäki, Marie Lallier, Manuel Carreiras, Xavier De Tiege

Posted 22 Aug 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/744151

To gain novel insights into how the human brain processes self-produced auditory information during reading aloud, we investigated the coupling between neuromagnetic activity and the temporal envelope of the heard speech sounds (i.e., speech brain tracking) in a group of adults who 1) read a text aloud, 2) listened to a recording of their own speech (i.e., playback), and 3) listened to another speech recording. Coherence analyses revealed that, during reading aloud, the reader's brain tracked the slow temporal fluctuations of the speech output. Specifically, auditory cortices tracked phrasal structure (<1 Hz) but to a lesser extent than during the two speech listening conditions. Also, the tracking of syllable structure (4-8 Hz) occurred at parietal opercula during reading aloud and at auditory cortices during listening. Directionality analyses based on renormalized partial directed coherence revealed that speech brain tracking at <1 Hz and 4-8 Hz is dominated by speech-to-brain directional coupling during both reading aloud and listening, meaning that speech brain tracking mainly entails auditory feedback processing. Nevertheless, brain-to-speech directional coupling at 4-8 Hz was enhanced during reading aloud compared with listening, likely reflecting speech monitoring before production. Altogether, these data bring novel insights into how auditory verbal information is tracked by the human brain during perception and self-generation of connected speech.

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