Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Speaking and listening share large part of brain infrastructure

Date:
August 16, 2011
Source:
Radboud University Nijmegen
Summary:
What areas of the brain are involved in the linguistic processes underlying speech and listening and are there large differences between these? Neuroscientists in the Netherlands have successfully investigated this question using fMRI. In what may come as a surprise to many scientists, the researchers have established that there is a large degree of overlap between the areas involved.

What areas of the brain are involved in the linguistic processes underlying speech and listening and are there large differences between these? Neuroscientists from the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour at Radboud University Nijmegen are the first to have successfully investigated this question using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In what may come as a surprise to many scientists, the researchers have established that there is a large degree of overlap between the areas involved.

Related Articles


The results are published in the journal Psychological Science.

Within the scientific community there is a lot of discussion about whether the brain functions involved in speech production are also involved in the comprehension of speech. In the area of mirror neuron research in particular (a hot topic for the past 15 years), research has viewed the overlap between the areas of the brain involved in speech and listening as reaction and observed action, says neuroscientist Laura Menenti, who is currently working at the University of Glasgow. However, speaking and listening are more than just action and observation. They also involve linguistic processing. Menenti and her colleagues mainly focused on this last aspect: which areas of the brain are involved in the semantic (production and the comprehension of meaning), lexical (making and recognising words) and syntactic (being able to use and recognise grammar) processes?

Talking in the fMRI

One unique aspect of this research is that it is the first study to have investigated the production of sentences in detail using fMRI. Speech comprehension had already widely been studied in this manner. However, for speech production the problem up until now was that too much noise was present in the measurements due to study subjects moving their mouth, facial muscles and head, and the variable quantity of air in their mouths.

This noise cannot be prevented, but at the Donders Institute a method has been developed, which allows a more powerful signal to be measured, compared to the noise. Menenti said: "In a nutshell, whereas we usually make an image with the fMRI every two seconds, we now we make five images every 2 seconds, from which we take the average for further processing."

Striking result, especially for the scientists

The results reveal a considerable overlap between brain areas (a shared 'neuronal infrastructure') which are involved in the linguistic processes associated with speech production and comprehension. Menenti explained: "Within linguistics and brain science this is a striking result. Based on studies with aphasia patients one might equally expect that speech production and comprehension would show some neuronal overlap but would otherwise each cover their own areas." Even more striking was the fact that in their research, Menenti and her colleagues did not find any results which indicated that the motor system in the brain, involved in action and movement, makes a crucial contribution to speech perception. "From the perspective of mirror neuron research that is also an unexpected result."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Radboud University Nijmegen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. L. Menenti, S. M. E. Gierhan, K. Segaert, P. Hagoort. Shared Language: Overlap and Segregation of the Neuronal Infrastructure for Speaking and Listening Revealed by Functional MRI. Psychological Science, 2011; DOI: 10.1177/0956797611418347

Cite This Page:

Radboud University Nijmegen. "Speaking and listening share large part of brain infrastructure." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110816084007.htm>.
Radboud University Nijmegen. (2011, August 16). Speaking and listening share large part of brain infrastructure. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110816084007.htm
Radboud University Nijmegen. "Speaking and listening share large part of brain infrastructure." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110816084007.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 9 out of 10 excessive drinkers in the country are not alcohol dependent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Speaking and Understanding Speech Share the Same Parts of the Brain

Aug. 16, 2011 The brain has two big tasks related to speech: making it and understanding it. Psychologists and others who study the brain have debated whether these are really two separate tasks or whether they ... read more

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins