Cognitive control of orofacial motor and vocal responses in the ventrolateral and dorsomedial human frontal cortex


  • Loh Kep Kee
  • Procyk Emmanuel
  • Neveu Rémi
  • Lamberton Franck
  • Hopkins William
  • Petrides Michael
  • Amiez Céline

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In the primate brain, a set of areas in the ventrolateral frontal (VLF) cortex and the dorsomedial frontal (DMF) cortex appear to control vocalizations. The basic role of this network in the human brain and how it may have evolved to enable complex speech remain unknown. In the present functional neuroimaging study of the human brain, a multidomain protocol was utilized to investigate the roles of the various areas that comprise the VLF-DMF network in learning rule-based cognitive selections between different types of motor actions: manual, orofacial, nonspeech vocal, and speech vocal actions. Ventrolateral area 44 (a key component of the Broca's language production region in the human brain) is involved in the cognitive selection of orofacial, as well as, speech and nonspeech vocal responses; and the midcingulate cortex is involved in the analysis of speech and nonspeech vocal feedback driving adaptation of these responses. By contrast, the cognitive selection of speech vocal information requires this former network and the additional recruitment of area 45 and the presupplementary motor area. We propose that the basic function expressed by the VLF-DMF network is to exert cognitive control of orofacial and vocal acts and, in the language dominant hemisphere of the human brain, has been adapted to serve higher speech function. These results pave the way to understand the potential changes that could have occurred in this network across primate evolution to enable speech production.

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