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There is general consensus in the literature that a distributed network of temporal and frontal brain areas is involved in speech comprehension. However, how active versus passive tasks modulate the activation and the functional connectivity of the critical brain areas is not clearly understood. In this study, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify intelligibility and task-related effects in speech comprehension. Participants performed a semantic judgment task on normal and time-reversed sentences, or passively listened to the sentences without making an overt response. The subtraction analysis demonstrated that passive sentence comprehension mainly engaged brain areas in the left anterior and posterior superior temporal sulcus and middle temporal gyrus (aSTS/MTG and pSTS/MTG), whereas active sentence comprehension recruited bilateral frontal regions in addition to the aSTS/MTG and pSTS/MTG regions. Functional connectivity analysis revealed that during passive sentence comprehension, the left aSTS/MTG was functionally connected with the left Heschl's gyrus (HG) and bilateral superior temporal gyrus (STG) but no area was functionally connected with the left pSTS/MTG; during active sentence comprehension, however, both the left aSTS/MTG and pSTS/MTG were functionally connected with bilateral superior temporal and inferior frontal areas. While these results are consistent with the view that the ventral stream of the temporo-frontal network subserves semantic processing, our findings further indicate that both the activation and the functional connectivity of the temporal and frontal areas are modulated by task demands. Copyright © 2013 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Q Yue, L Zhang, G Xu, H Shu, P Li. Task-modulated activation and functional connectivity of the temporal and frontal areas during speech comprehension. Neuroscience. 2013 May 1;237:87-95

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PMID: 23357111

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