Compared with complex coordinated orofacial actions, few neuroimaging studies have attempted to determine the shared and distinct neural substrates of supralaryngeal and laryngeal articulatory movements when performed independently. To determine cortical and subcortical regions associated with supralaryngeal motor control, participants produced lip, tongue and jaw movements while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). For laryngeal motor activity, participants produced the steady-state/i/vowel. A sparse temporal sampling acquisition method was used to minimize movement-related artifacts. Three main findings were observed. First, the four tasks activated a set of largely overlapping, common brain areas: the sensorimotor and premotor cortices, the right inferior frontal gyrus, the supplementary motor area, the left parietal operculum and the adjacent inferior parietal lobule, the basal ganglia and the cerebellum. Second, differences between tasks were restricted to the bilateral auditory cortices and to the left ventrolateral sensorimotor cortex, with greater signal intensity for vowel vocalization. Finally, a dorso-ventral somatotopic organization of lip, jaw, vocalic/laryngeal, and tongue movements was observed within the primary motor and somatosensory cortices using individual region-of-interest (ROI) analyses. These results provide evidence for a core neural network involved in laryngeal and supralaryngeal motor control and further refine the sensorimotor somatotopic organization of orofacial articulators.
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