Direct cortical stimulation of inferior frontal cortex disrupts both speech and music production in highly trained musicians

Cogn Neuropsychol. 2019 May-Jun;36(3-4):158-166. doi: 10.1080/02643294.2018.1472559. Epub 2018 May 22.


Music and speech are human-specific behaviours that share numerous properties, including the fine motor skills required to produce them. Given these similarities, previous work has suggested that music and speech may at least partially share neural substrates. To date, much of this work has focused on perception, and has not investigated the neural basis of production, particularly in trained musicians. Here, we report two rare cases of musicians undergoing neurosurgical procedures, where it was possible to directly stimulate the left hemisphere cortex during speech and piano/guitar music production tasks. We found that stimulation to left inferior frontal cortex, including pars opercularis and ventral pre-central gyrus, caused slowing and arrest for both speech and music, and note sequence errors for music. Stimulation to posterior superior temporal cortex only caused production errors during speech. These results demonstrate partially dissociable networks underlying speech and music production, with a shared substrate in frontal regions.

Keywords: Electrocortical stimulation; language mapping; music; neurosurgery; speech production.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Music / psychology*
  • Speech / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology*