Distinct representations of phonemes, syllables, and supra-syllabic sequences in the speech production network


  • Tourville Jason A.
  • Nieto-Castanon Alfonso
  • Anton Jean-Luc
  • Nazarian Bruno
  • Alario F. -Xavier
  • Peeva Maya G.
  • Guenther Frank H.

document type



Functional neuroimaging studies have converged on a core network of brain regions that supports speech production, but the sublexical processing stages performed by the different parts of this network remain unclear. Using an fMRI adaptation paradigm and quantitative analysis of patterns of activation rather than contrast subtractions alone. we were able to identify a set of neural substrates predominantly engaged in phonemic, syllabic, and supra-syllabic levels of processing during speech. Phoneme-level processes were found in the left SMA, pallidum, posterior superior temporal gyrus, and superior lateral cerebellum. Syllable-level processes were found in the left ventral premotor cortex, and supra-syllabic processes related to phonological chunking were found in the right superior lateral cerebellum, Active regions that were not sensitive to sublexical manipulations included primary motor and auditory cortical areas. and medial cerebellum. These results offer a quantitative technique for localizing sublexical neural processes that are difficult to dissociate using non-invasive imaging techniques and provide the beginnings of a ``brain map'' for language output. (C) 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

more information