Endogenous Cortical Rhythms Determine Cerebral Specialization for Speech Perception and Production
Across multiple timescales, acoustic regularities of speech match rhythmic properties of both the auditory and motor systems. Syllabic rate corresponds to natural jaw-associated oscillatory rhythms, and phonemic length could reflect endogenous oscillatory auditory cortical properties. Hemispheric lateralization for speech could result from an asymmetry of cortical tuning, with left and right auditory areas differentially sensitive to spectro-temporal features of speech. Using simultaneous electroencephalographic (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) recordings from humans, we show that spontaneous EEG power variations within the gamma range (phonemic rate) correlate best with left auditory cortical synaptic activity, while fluctuations within the theta range correlate best with that in the right. Power fluctuations in both ranges correlate with activity in the mouth premotor region, indicating coupling between temporal properties of speech perception and production. These data show that endogenous cortical rhythms provide temporal and spatial constraints on the neuronal mechanisms underlying speech perception and production.