Neural correlates of intelligibility in speech investigated with noise vocoded speech--a positron emission tomography study

J Acoust Soc Am. 2006 Aug;120(2):1075-83. doi: 10.1121/1.2216725.


Functional imaging studies of speech perception in the human brain have identified a key role for auditory association areas in the temporal lobes (bilateral superior temporal gyri and sulci) in the perceptual processing of the speech signal. This is extended to suggest some functional specialization within this bilateral system, with a particular role for the left anterior superior temporal sulcus (STS) in processing intelligible speech. In the current study, noise-vocoded speech was used to vary the intelligibility of speech parametrically. This replicated the finding of a selective response to intelligibility in speech in the left anterior superior temporal sulcus, in contrast to the posterior superior temporal sulcus, which showed a response profile insensitive to the degree of intelligibility. These results are related to theories of functional organization in the human auditory system, which have indicated that there are separate processing streams, with different functional roles, running anterior and posterior to primary auditory cortex. Specifically, it is suggested that an anterior stream processing intelligibility can be distinguished from a posterior stream associated with transient representations, important in spoken repetition and working memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Auditory Cortex / diagnostic imaging*
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Noise
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Sound Spectrography
  • Speech Intelligibility / physiology*
  • Speech Perception / physiology*