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Keywords:

  • current density;
  • motor efference;
  • motor preparation;
  • N100;
  • picture naming

Abstract

Previous studies have shown that speaking affects auditory and motor cortex responsiveness, which may reflect the influence of motor efference copy. If motor efference copy is involved, it would also likely influence auditory and motor cortical activity when preparing to speak. We tested this hypothesis by using auditory event-related potentials and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the motor cortex. In the speech condition subjects were visually cued to prepare a vocal response to a subsequent target, which was compared to a control condition without speech preparation. Auditory and motor cortex responsiveness at variable times between the cue and target were probed with an acoustic stimulus (Experiment 1, tone or consonant–vowels) or motor cortical TMS (Experiment 2). Acoustic probes delivered shortly before targets elicited a fronto-central negative potential in the speech condition. Current density analysis showed that auditory cortical activity was attenuated at the beginning of the slow potential in the speech condition. Sensory potentials in response to probes had shorter latencies (N100) and larger amplitudes (P200) when consonant–vowels matched the sound of cue words. Motor cortex excitability was greater in the speech than in the control condition at all time points before picture onset. The results suggest that speech preparation induces top-down regulation of sensory and motor cortex responsiveness, with different time courses for auditory and motor systems.