The pace of prosodic phrasing couples the listener's cortex to the reader's voice

Authors

  • Mathieu Bourguignon,

    1. Laboratoire de Cartographie Fonctionnelle du Cerveau, ULB-Hôpital Erasme, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1070 Brussels, Belgium
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Mathieu Bourguignon and Xavier De Tiège contributed equally to this work.

  • Xavier De Tiège,

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratoire de Cartographie Fonctionnelle du Cerveau, ULB-Hôpital Erasme, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1070 Brussels, Belgium
    • Laboratoire de Cartographie Fonctionnelle du Cerveau, ULB-Hôpital Erasme, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 808 Lennik Street, 1070 Brussels, Belgium
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Mathieu Bourguignon and Xavier De Tiège contributed equally to this work.

  • Marc Op de Beeck,

    1. Laboratoire de Cartographie Fonctionnelle du Cerveau, ULB-Hôpital Erasme, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1070 Brussels, Belgium
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Noémie Ligot,

    1. Laboratoire de Cartographie Fonctionnelle du Cerveau, ULB-Hôpital Erasme, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1070 Brussels, Belgium
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Philippe Paquier,

    1. Laboratoire de Cartographie Fonctionnelle du Cerveau, ULB-Hôpital Erasme, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1070 Brussels, Belgium
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Patrick Van Bogaert,

    1. Laboratoire de Cartographie Fonctionnelle du Cerveau, ULB-Hôpital Erasme, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1070 Brussels, Belgium
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Serge Goldman,

    1. Laboratoire de Cartographie Fonctionnelle du Cerveau, ULB-Hôpital Erasme, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1070 Brussels, Belgium
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Riitta Hari,

    1. Brain Research Unit, Low Temperature Laboratory, Aalto University School of Science, Espoo, Finland
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Veikko Jousmäki

    1. Laboratoire de Cartographie Fonctionnelle du Cerveau, ULB-Hôpital Erasme, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1070 Brussels, Belgium
    2. Brain Research Unit, Low Temperature Laboratory, Aalto University School of Science, Espoo, Finland
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

We studied online coupling between a reader's voice and a listener's cortical activity using a novel, ecologically valid continuous listening paradigm. Whole-scalp magnetoencephalographic (MEG) signals were recorded from 10 right-handed, native French-speaking listeners in four conditions: a female (Exp1f) and a male (Exp1m) reading the same text in French; a male reading a text in Finnish (Exp 2), a language incomprehensible for the subjects, and a male humming Exp1 text (Exp 3). The fundamental frequency (f0) of the reader's voice was recorded with an accelerometer attached to the throat, and coherence was computed between f0 time-course and listener's MEG. Similar levels of right-hemisphere-predominant coherence were found at ˜0.5 Hz in Exps 1–3. Dynamic imaging of coherent sources revealed that the most coherent brain regions were located in the right posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) and posterior superior temporal gyrus (pSTG) in Exps 1–2 and in the right supratemporal auditory cortex in Exp 3. Comparison between speech rhythm and phrasing suggested a connection of the observed coherence to pauses at the sentence level both in the spoken and hummed text. These results demonstrate significant coupling at ∼0.5 Hz between reader's voice and listener's cortical signals during listening to natural continuous voice. The observed coupling suggests that voice envelope fluctuations, due to prosodic rhythmicity at the phrasal and sentence levels, are reflected in the listener's cortex as rhythmicity of about 2-s cycles. The predominance of the coherence in the right pSTS and pSTG suggests hemispherical asymmetry in processing of speech sounds at subsentence time scales. Hum Brain Mapp, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Ancillary