Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Several perspectives on speech perception posit a central role for the representation of articulations in speech comprehension, supported by evidence for premotor activation when participants listen to speech. However, no experiments have directly tested whether motor responses mirror the profile of selective auditory cortical responses to native speech sounds or whether motor and auditory areas respond in different ways to sounds. We used fMRI to investigate cortical responses to speech and nonspeech mouth (ingressive click) sounds. Speech sounds activated bilateral superior temporal gyri more than other sounds, a profile not seen in motor and premotor cortices. These results suggest that there are qualitative differences in the ways that temporal and motor areas are activated by speech and click sounds: Anterior temporal lobe areas are sensitive to the acoustic or phonetic properties, whereas motor responses may show more generalized responses to the acoustic stimuli.