A Double Dissociation between Anterior and Posterior Superior Temporal Gyrus for Processing Audiovisual Speech Demonstrated by Electrocorticography

J Cogn Neurosci. 2017 Jun;29(6):1044-1060. doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_01110. Epub 2017 Mar 2.


Human speech can be comprehended using only auditory information from the talker's voice. However, comprehension is improved if the talker's face is visible, especially if the auditory information is degraded as occurs in noisy environments or with hearing loss. We explored the neural substrates of audiovisual speech perception using electrocorticography, direct recording of neural activity using electrodes implanted on the cortical surface. We observed a double dissociation in the responses to audiovisual speech with clear and noisy auditory component within the superior temporal gyrus (STG), a region long known to be important for speech perception. Anterior STG showed greater neural activity to audiovisual speech with clear auditory component, whereas posterior STG showed similar or greater neural activity to audiovisual speech in which the speech was replaced with speech-like noise. A distinct border between the two response patterns was observed, demarcated by a landmark corresponding to the posterior margin of Heschl's gyrus. To further investigate the computational roles of both regions, we considered Bayesian models of multisensory integration, which predict that combining the independent sources of information available from different modalities should reduce variability in the neural responses. We tested this prediction by measuring the variability of the neural responses to single audiovisual words. Posterior STG showed smaller variability than anterior STG during presentation of audiovisual speech with noisy auditory component. Taken together, these results suggest that posterior STG but not anterior STG is important for multisensory integration of noisy auditory and visual speech.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Electrocorticography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Speech Perception / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*