PET imaging of differential cortical activation by monaural speech and nonspeech stimuli

Donald Wong, David B. Pisoni, Jennifer Learn, Jack T. Gandour, Richard T. Miyamoto, Gary D. Hutchins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Scopus citations


Positron emission tomography imaging was used to investigate the brain activation patterns of listeners presented monaurally (right ear) with speech and nonspeech stimuli. The major objectives were to identify regions involved with speech and nonspeech processing, and to develop a stimulus paradigm suitable for studies of cochlear-implant subjects. Scans were acquired under a silent condition and stimulus conditions that required listeners to press a response button to repeated words, sentences, time-reversed (TR) words, or TR sentences. Group-averaged data showed activated foci in the posterior superior temporal gyrus (STG) bilaterally and in or near the anterior insula/frontal operculum across all stimulus conditions compared to silence. The anterior STG was activated bilaterally for speech signals, but only on the right side for TR sentences. Only nonspeech conditions showed frontal-lobe activation in both the left inferior frontal gyrus [Brodmann's area (BA) 47] and ventromedial prefrontal areas (BA 10/11). An STG focus near the superior temporal sulcus was observed for sentence compared to word. The present findings show that both speech and nonspeech engaged a distributed network in temporal cortex for early acoustic and prelexical phonological analysis. Yet backward speech, though lacking semantic content, is perceived as speechlike by engaging prefrontal regions implicated in lexico-semantic processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-23
Number of pages15
JournalHearing Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 24 2002


  • Auditory cortical processing
  • Cochlear implant
  • Positron emission tomography imaging
  • Reversed speech
  • Speech perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems

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