Activation in the anterior left auditory cortex associated with phonological analysis of speech input: localization of the phonological mismatch negativity response with MEG
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The spatio-temporal dynamics of cortical activation underlying auditory word recognition, particularly its phonological stage, was studied with whole-head magnetoencephalography (MEG). Subjects performed a visuo-auditory priming task known to evoke the phonological mismatch negativity (PMN) response that is elicited by violations of phonological expectancies. Words and non-words were presented in separate conditions. In each of the 318 trials, the subjects first saw a word/non-word (e.g., 'cat') that was soon followed by a prime letter (e.g., 'h'). Their task was to replace mentally the sound of the first letter of the word/non-word with the prime letter, thus resulting in a new word/non-word (e.g., 'hat'). Finally, an auditory word/non-word either matching or mismatching with the anticipated item was presented. In most subjects, a PMNm followed by a later, N400m-like negativity was obtained in the left hemisphere to the mismatching auditory stimuli. A similar response pattern was obtained in the right hemisphere only in a few subjects. Source localization of the N1m, an index of acoustic analysis, and the PMNm and N400m-like responses was performed using L1 minimum-norm estimation. In the left hemisphere, the PMNm source for the words was significantly more anterior than the source of the N400m-like response; for the non-words, the PMNm source was significantly more anterior than the sources of the N1m and the N400m-like response. These results suggest that the left-hemisphere neuronal networks involved in sub-lexical phonological analysis are at least partly different from those responsible for the earlier (acoustic) and later (whole item) processing of speech input.
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