The neural bases of difficult speech comprehension and speech production: Two Activation Likelihood Estimation (ALE) meta-analyses

Brain Lang. 2012 Jul;122(1):42-54. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2012.04.014. Epub 2012 May 26.


The role of speech production mechanisms in difficult speech comprehension is the subject of on-going debate in speech science. Two Activation Likelihood Estimation (ALE) analyses were conducted on neuroimaging studies investigating difficult speech comprehension or speech production. Meta-analysis 1 included 10 studies contrasting comprehension of less intelligible/distorted speech with more intelligible speech. Meta-analysis 2 (21 studies) identified areas associated with speech production. The results indicate that difficult comprehension involves increased reliance of cortical regions in which comprehension and production overlapped (bilateral anterior Superior Temporal Sulcus (STS) and anterior Supplementary Motor Area (pre-SMA)) and in an area associated with intelligibility processing (left posterior MTG), and second involves increased reliance on cortical areas associated with general executive processes (bilateral anterior insulae). Comprehension of distorted speech may be supported by a hybrid neural mechanism combining increased involvement of areas associated with general executive processing and areas shared between comprehension and production.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Comprehension / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neuroimaging
  • Speech / physiology*
  • Speech Perception / physiology*