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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

July 2013, Vol. 25, No. 7, Pages 1020-1036
(doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_00381)
© 2013 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Effect of Imagination on Stimulation: The Functional Specificity of Efference Copies in Speech Processing
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The computational role of efference copies is widely appreciated in action and perception research, but their properties for speech processing remain murky. We tested the functional specificity of auditory efference copies using magnetoencephalography recordings in an unconventional pairing: We used a classical cognitive manipulation (mental imagery—to elicit internal simulation and estimation) with a well-established experimental paradigm (one shot repetition—to assess neuronal specificity). Participants performed tasks that differentially implicated internal prediction of sensory consequences (overt speaking, imagined speaking, and imagined hearing) and their modulatory effects on the perception of an auditory (syllable) probe were assessed. Remarkably, the neural responses to overt syllable probes vary systematically, both in terms of directionality (suppression, enhancement) and temporal dynamics (early, late), as a function of the preceding covert mental imagery adaptor. We show, in the context of a dual-pathway model, that internal simulation shapes perception in a context-dependent manner.