Authors: Liberty S. Hamilton, Yulia Oganian, Jeffery Hall, Edward F. Chang.

Article: Parallel and distributed encoding of speech across human auditory cortex.

Publication: Cell (Cell Press). Published: August 18, 2021 2021 | DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.07.019

[Full Text]


  • We recorded intracranial signals in human primary and nonprimary auditory cortex
  • A superior temporal gyrus onset zone activates parallel to primary auditory areas
  • Stimulation of superior temporal gyrus impairs speech perception
  • Stimulation of primary auditory cortex does not affect speech perception


Speech perception is thought to rely on a cortical feedforward serial transformation of acoustic into linguistic representations. Using intracranial recordings across the entire human auditory cortex, electrocortical stimulation, and surgical ablation, we show that cortical processing across areas is not consistent with a serial hierarchical organization. Instead, response latency and receptive field analyses demonstrate parallel and distinct information processing in the primary and nonprimary auditory cortices. This functional dissociation was also observed where stimulation of the primary auditory cortex evokes auditory hallucination but does not distort or interfere with speech perception. Opposite effects were observed during stimulation of nonprimary cortex in superior temporal gyrus. Ablation of the primary auditory cortex does not affect speech perception. These results establish a distributed functional organization of parallel information processing throughout the human auditory cortex and demonstrate an essential independent role for nonprimary auditory cortex in speech processing.

Tagged as: language processing and speech perception

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