Blog Archives

Voices behind the left shoulder: Two patients with right-sided temporal lobe epilepsy

Auditory vocal hallucinations are sometimes observed in temporal-lobe epilepsy, but are a frequent sign of psychosis and may rarely be mistaken for the latter. Here we report two patients who suffered from auditory vocal hallucinations, described as unintelligible human voices perceived at their left side during epileptic seizures. MEG revealed interictal epileptic discharges within the anterior partition of the right superior temporal gyrus; signal-to-noise ratio of these discharges was overall poor in EEG. The findings suggest that auditory vocal hallucinations without verbal content can evolve in the right hemisphere and are probably independent of language lateralization. This is in accordance with evidence from functional imaging, whereas most previous reports of seizures with auditory vocal hallucinations were confined to the left hemisphere.

from Neurological Sciences

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Prominence vs. aboutness in sequencing: A functional distinction within the left inferior frontal gyrus

Prior research on the neural bases of syntactic comprehension suggests that activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus (lIFG) correlates with the processing of word order variations. However, there are inconsistencies with respect to the specific subregion within the IFG that is implicated by these findings: the pars opercularis or the pars triangularis. Here, we examined the hypothesis that the dissociation between pars opercularis and pars triangularis activation may reflect functional differences between clause-medial and clause-initial word order permutations, respectively. To this end, we directly compared clause-medial and clause-initial object-before-subject orders in German in a within-participants, event-related fMRI design. Our results showed increased activation for object-initial sentences in a bilateral network of frontal, temporal and subcortical regions. Within the lIFG, posterior and inferior subregions showed only a main effect of word order, whereas more anterior and superior subregions showed effects of word order and sentence type, with higher activation for sentences with an argument in the clause-initial position. These findings are interpreted as evidence for a functional gradation of sequence processing within the left IFG: posterior subportions correlate with argument prominence-based (local) aspects of sequencing, while anterior subportions correlate with aboutness-based aspects of sequencing, which are crucial in linking the current sentence to the wider discourse. This proposal appears compatible with more general hypotheses about information processing gradients in prefrontal cortex (Koechlin & Summerfield, 2007).

from Brain and Language

Phonological awareness predicts activation patterns for print and speech

Abstract Using fMRI, we explored the relationship between phonological awareness (PA), a measure of metaphonological knowledge of the segmental structure of speech, and brain activation patterns during processing of print and speech in young readers from 6 to 10 years of age. Behavioral measures of PA were positively correlated with activation levels for print relative to speech tokens in superior temporal and occipito-temporal regions. Differences between print-elicited activation levels in superior temporal and inferior frontal sites were also correlated with PA measures with the direction of the correlation depending on stimulus type: positive for pronounceable pseudowords and negative for consonant strings. These results support and extend the many indications in the behavioral and neurocognitive literature that PA is a major component of skill in beginning readers and point to a developmental trajectory by which written language engages areas originally shaped by speech for learners on the path toward successful literacy acquisition.

from Annals of Dyslexia