Sensory-motor networks involved in speech production and motor control: An fMRI study

Roozbeh Behroozmand, Rachel Shebek, Daniel R. Hansen, Hiroyuki Oya, Donald A. Robin, Matthew A. Howard, Jeremy D.W. Greenlee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Speaking is one of the most complex motor behaviors developed to facilitate human communication. The underlying neural mechanisms of speech involve sensory-motor interactions that incorporate feedback information for online monitoring and control of produced speech sounds. In the present study, we adopted an auditory feedback pitch perturbation paradigm and combined it with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) recordings in order to identify brain areas involved in speech production and motor control. Subjects underwent fMRI scanning while they produced a steady vowel sound /a/ (speaking) or listened to the playback of their own vowel production (playback). During each condition, the auditory feedback from vowel production was either normal (no perturbation) or perturbed by an upward (+. 600 cents) pitch-shift stimulus randomly. Analysis of BOLD responses during speaking (with and without shift) vs. rest revealed activation of a complex network including bilateral superior temporal gyrus (STG), Heschl's gyrus, precentral gyrus, supplementary motor area (SMA), Rolandic operculum, postcentral gyrus and right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG). Performance correlation analysis showed that the subjects produced compensatory vocal responses that significantly correlated with BOLD response increases in bilateral STG and left precentral gyrus. However, during playback, the activation network was limited to cortical auditory areas including bilateral STG and Heschl's gyrus. Moreover, the contrast between speaking vs. playback highlighted a distinct functional network that included bilateral precentral gyrus, SMA, IFG, postcentral gyrus and insula. These findings suggest that speech motor control involves feedback error detection in sensory (e.g. auditory) cortices that subsequently activate motor-related areas for the adjustment of speech parameters during speaking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)418-428
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Auditory feedback
  • FMRI
  • Pitch perturbation
  • Sensory-motor integration
  • Speech motor control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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