Exclusive:Sensory Integration and Its Brain Mechanisms

Mechanisms of sensorimotor integration in speech perception

  • LIANG Baishen ,
  • DU Yi
  • 1. Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science;Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

Received date: 2017-07-10

  Revised date: 2017-09-18

  Online published: 2017-10-18


The way our brains perceive and comprehend speech remains an essential issue in psychology and brain science. In recent years, consensus has gradually been made on that the speech motor system (SMS) contributes to speech perception in a modulatory and compensatory manner, especially under noise masking or speech degradation circumstances. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, the current work investigates neural mechanisms of sensorimotor integration and compensation during syllable identification task in noisy conditions. Study 1 reveals an increment of the SMS involvement as the task difficulty increases. In addition, the SMS shows more robust specificity of phoneme representations than auditory regions in noisy conditions, as such a superiority climaxes at moderate noise levels. Study 2 finds that older adults with normal hearing have difficulty in syllable-in-noise identification. Compared with younger counterparts, the elders rely more on increased recruitment of the SMS and preserved speech motoric representations, which are less affected by noise and aging effects than auditory ones, to compensate for deficient auditory encoding. Our findings deepen the knowledge of neural mechanisms underlying cross-modal sensorimotor integration in speech perception and its life-span developmental changes. Moreover, new insights could be given on designing and implementing rehabilitative and training regimens for speech comprehension (e.g., SMS-targeted brain enhancement) in older adults with or without hearing loss.

Cite this article

LIANG Baishen , DU Yi . Mechanisms of sensorimotor integration in speech perception[J]. Science & Technology Review, 2017 , 35(19) : 21 -28 . DOI: 10.3981/j.issn.1000-7857.2017.19.002


[1] Liberman A M, Cooper F S, Shankweiler D P, et al. Perception of the speech code[J]. Psychological Review, 1967, 74(6):431.
[2] Holt L L. Temporally nonadjacent nonlinguistic sounds affect speech categorization[J]. Psychological Science, 2005, 16(4):305-312.
[3] Pellegrino G, Fadiga L, Fogassi L, et al. Understanding motor events:a neurophysiological study[J]. Experimental Brain Research, 1992, 91(1):176-180.
[4] Gallese V, Fadiga L, Fogassi L, et al. Action recognition in the premo-tor cortex[J]. Brain, 1996, 119(2):593-609.
[5] Fogassi L, Ferrari P F. Mirror neurons and the evolution of embodied language[J]. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2007, 16(3):136-141.
[6] Fazio P, Cantagallo A, Craighero L, et al. Encoding of human action in Broca's area[J]. Brain, 2009, 132(7):1980-1988.
[7] Fadiga L, Craighero L, D'Ausilio A. Broca's area in language, action, and music[J]. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2009, 1169(1):448-458.
[8] Skipper J I, Devlin J T, Lametti D R. The hearing ear is always found close to the speaking tongue:Review of the role of the motor system in speech perception[J]. Brain and Language, 2017, 164:77-105.
[9] D'Ausilio A, Pulvermüller F, Salmas P, et al. The motor somatotopy of speech perception[J]. Current Biology, 2009, 19(5):381-385.
[10] Fadiga L, Craighero L, Buccino G, et al. Speech listening specifically modulates the excitability of tongue muscles:A TMS study[J]. Europe-an Journal of Neuroscience, 2002, 15(2):399-402.
[11] Meister I G, Wilson S M, Deblieck C, et al. The essential role of pre-motor cortex in speech perception[J]. Current Biology, 2007, 17(19):1692-1696.
[12] Sato M, Tremblay P, Gracco V L. A mediating role of the premotor cortex in phoneme segmentation[J]. Brain and Language, 2009, 111(1):1-7.
[13] Hickok G, Houde J, Rong F. Sensorimotor integration in speech pro-cessing:computational basis and neural organization[J]. Neuron, 2011, 69(3):407-422.
[14] Bever T G, Poeppel D. Analysis by synthesis:A (re-) emerging pro-gram of research for language and vision[J]. Biolinguistics, 2010, 4(2-3):174-200.
[15] Poeppel D, Monahan P J. Feedforward and feedback in speech percep-tion:Revisiting analysis by synthesis[J]. Language and Cognitive Pro-cesses, 2011, 26(7):935-951.
[16] Hickok G, Poeppel D. The cortical organization of speech processing[J]. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 2007, 8(5):393-402.
[17] Maguinness C, Setti A, Burke K, et al. The effect of combined sensory and semantic components on audio-visual speech perception in older adults[J]. Frontiers in Aging Meuroscience, 2011, 3:19.
[18] Erb J, Obleser J. Upregulation of cognitive control networks in older adults' speech comprehension[J]. Frontiers in Systems Newroscience, 2013, 7:116.
[19] Wong P C M, Jin J X, Gunasekera G M, et al. Aging and cortical mechanisms of speech perception in noise[J]. Neuropsychologia, 2009, 47(3):693-703.
[20] Du Y, Buchsbaum B R, Grady C L, et al. Noise differentially impacts phoneme representations in the auditory and speech motor systems[J]. PNAS, 2014, 111(19):7126-7131.
[21] Du Y, Buchsbaum B R, Grady C L, et al. Increased activity in frontal motor cortex compensates impaired speech perception in older adults[J]. Nature Communications, 2016:7:12241.
[22] Norman K A, Polyn S M, Detre G J, et al. Beyond mind-reading:multi-voxel pattern analysis of fMRI data[J]. Trends in Cognitive Sci-ences, 2006, 10(9):424-430.
[23] Destrieux C, Fischl B, Dale A, et al. Automatic parcellation of human cortical gyri and sulci using standard anatomical nomenclature[J]. Neu-roimage, 2010, 53(1):1-15.
[24] Yarkoni T, Poldrack R A, Nichols T E, et al. Large-scale automated synthesis of human functional neuroimaging data[J]. Nature Methods, 2011, 8(8):665-670.
[25] Ahdesmäki M, Strimmer K. Feature selection in omics prediction prob-lems using cat scores and false nondiscovery rate control[J]. Annals of Applied Statistics, 2010, 4(1):503-519.
[26] Cabeza R, Anderson N D, Locantore J K, et al. Aging gracefully:Com-pensatory brain activity in high-performing older adults[J]. Neuroim-age, 2002, 17(3):1394-1402.
[27] Reuter-Lorenz P A, Cappell K A. Neurocognitive aging and the com-pensation hypothesis[J]. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2008, 17(3):177-182.