Auditory phoneme discrimination (APD) is supported by both auditory and motor regions through a sensorimotor interface embedded in a fronto-temporo-parietal cortical network. However, the specific spatiotemporal organization of this network during APD with respect to different types of phonemic contrasts is still unclear. Here, we use source reconstruction, applied to event-related potentials in a group of 47 participants, to uncover a potential spatiotemporal differentiation in these brain regions during a passive and active APD task with respect to place of articulation (PoA), voicing and manner of articulation (MoA). Results demonstrate that in an early stage (50-110 ms), auditory, motor and sensorimotor regions elicit more activation during the passive and active APD task with MoA and active APD task with voicing compared to PoA. In a later stage (130-175 ms), the same auditory and motor regions elicit more activation during the APD task with PoA compared to MoA and voicing, yet only in the active condition, implying important timing differences. Degree of attention influences a frontal network during the APD task with PoA, whereas auditory regions are more affected during the APD task with MoA and voicing. Based on these findings, it can be carefully suggested that APD is supported by the integration of early activation of auditory-acoustic properties in superior temporal regions, more perpetuated for MoA and voicing, and later auditory-to-motor integration in sensorimotor areas, more perpetuated for PoA.
Keywords: Mismatch negativity (MMN); Neurophysiology; P300; Phonology.