The everyday act of speaking involves the complex processes of speech motor control. An important component of control is monitoring, detection, and processing of errors when auditory feedback does not correspond to the intended motor gesture. Here we show, using fMRI and converging operations within a multivoxel pattern analysis framework, that this sensorimotor process is supported by functionally differentiated brain networks. During scanning, a real-time speech-tracking system was used to deliver two acoustically different types of distorted auditory feedback or unaltered feedback while human participants were vocalizing monosyllabic words, and to present the same auditory stimuli while participants were passively listening. Whole-brain analysis of neural-pattern similarity revealed three functional networks that were differentially sensitive to distorted auditory feedback during vocalization, compared with during passive listening. One network of regions appears to encode an “error signal” regardless of acoustic features of the error: this network, including right angular gyrus, right supplementary motor area, and bilateral cerebellum, yielded consistent neural patterns across acoustically different, distorted feedback types, only during articulation (not during passive listening). In contrast, a frontotemporal network appears sensitive to the speech features of auditory stimuli during passive listening; this preference for speech features was diminished when the same stimuli were presented as auditory concomitants of vocalization. A third network, showing a distinct functional pattern from the other two, appears to capture aspects of both neural response profiles. Together, our findings suggest that auditory feedback processing during speech motor control may rely on multiple, interactive, functionally differentiated neural systems.
Journal of Neuroscience, 2013, Vol 33, Issue 10, p. 4339-4348