Two Distinct Auditory-Motor Circuits for Monitoring Speech Production as Revealed by Content-Specific Suppression of Auditory Cortex
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Speech production, both overt and covert, down-regulates the activation of auditory cortex. This is thought to be due to forward prediction of the sensory consequences of speech, contributing to a feedback control mechanism for speech production. Critically, however, these regulatory effects should be specific to speech content to enable accurate speech monitoring. To determine the extent to which such forward prediction is content-specific, we recorded the brain's neuromagnetic responses to heard multisyllabic pseudowords during covert rehearsal in working memory, contrasted with a control task. The cortical auditory processing of target syllables was significantly suppressed during rehearsal compared with control, but only when they matched the rehearsed items. This critical specificity to speech content enables accurate speech monitoring by forward prediction, as proposed by current models of speech production. The one-to-one phonological motor-to-auditory mappings also appear to serve the maintenance of information in phonological working memory. Further findings of right-hemispheric suppression in the case of whole-item matches and left-hemispheric enhancement for last-syllable mismatches suggest that speech production is monitored by 2 auditory-motor circuits operating on different timescales: Finer grain in the left versus coarser grain in the right hemisphere. Taken together, our findings provide hemisphere-specific evidence of the interface between inner and heard speech.
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