In an entry several weeks back, I argued that the auditory dorsal stream may not be auditory-specific. (See "The auditory dorsal stream may not be auditory.") I previewed an experiment by a former TalkingBrains West grad student Judy Pa (now at UCSF) in which skilled pianists were asked to listen to novel melodies and either covertly hum or imagine playing the melody during fMRI scanning. What we found was that area Spt -- previously thought to be an auditory-motor integration area -- showed a reduction in amplitude during the listen-play condition relative to the listen-hum condition. An inferior parietal region showed the reverse pattern. We concluded that Spt is not auditory-motor, but sensory-vocal tract. That is, it is a sensory-motor integration area for the vocal tract that happens to receive a lot of auditory input, but could just as well receive input from other modalities (e.g., perception of visual speech, lip-reading, activates this general area).
The paper describing this work is now in print in Neuropsychologia, 2008, 46:362-8. Check it out!
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