Auditory comprehension of language is fundamental to human communication and is often disrupted in neurological disorders for reasons that are incompletely understood. The overarching goal of the proposal is to understand the neural basis of auditory language comprehension and therefore open the door to effective interventions. We use complementary lesion/stroke-based and functional MRI methods to address three specific aims.
Aim 1 : Understand the neural basis of speech perception. The idea that the motor system may play a prominent role in speech perception has gained much popularity. We have argued instead that speech perception is bilaterally organized in the superior temporal lobes with minimal frontal/motor modulation. Experiments proposed under this aim test these competing ideas using both comprehension and syllable discrimination tasks and signal detection methods.
Aim 2 : Understand the role of extra-auditory influences on speech perception/comprehension. Speech perception is influenced by contextual information. Here we examine the influence of two cues, visual speech and word-level information. We hypothesize that temporal lobe circuits are primarily responsible for both of these sources of influence on speech perception. Our proposed studies will test this hypothesis.
Aim 3 : Understand the neural basis of sentence-level processing. Speech perception and word comprehension are critical for comprehension, but effective communication relies additionally on higher-order processes such as those involved in sentence comprehension. We propose studies aimed at testing our hypothesis that anterior temporal regions are particularly important for integrating lexical and syntactic information to derive sentence meaning. Methodologically, this program is driven by a commitment to the view that multiple methods are required for deriving a complete picture of a neural process. To speed the pace of lesion work, which can be laboriously slow, we have developed a Multisite Aphasia Research Consortium (MARC) that will enable us to collect data at an unprecedented pace. This will remove a critical barrier to rapid progress by quickly accruing the large samples needed for quantitative lesion-behavior correlation analyses.

Public Health Relevance

Language disorders affect millions of people in the United States, and deficits in comprehending speech are a prominent component of many of these disorders. By studying the basis for auditory comprehension deficits in brain injury and by mapping these systems in healthy adults we will gain a more complete understanding of what going wrong, leading to more targeted therapeutic approaches to treatment of language dysfunction. !

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
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Language and Communication Study Section (LCOM)
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Cooper, Judith
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University of California Irvine
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Sebastian, Rajani; Schein, Mara G; Davis, Cameron et al. (2014) Aphasia or Neglect after Thalamic Stroke: The Various Ways They may be Related to Cortical Hypoperfusion. Front Neurol 5:231
Sebastian, Rajani; Gomez, Yessenia; Leigh, Richard et al. (2014) The roles of occipitotemporal cortex in reading, spelling, and naming. Cogn Neuropsychol 31:511-28
Pettigrew, Corinne; Hillis, Argye E (2014) Role for Memory Capacity in Sentence Comprehension: Evidence from Acute Stroke. Aphasiology 28:1258-1280
Faria, Andreia V; Sebastian, Rajani; Newhart, Melissa et al. (2014) Longitudinal Imaging and Deterioration in Word Comprehension in Primary Progressive Aphasia: Potential Clinical Significance. Aphasiology 28:948-963
Hickok, Gregory; Rogalsky, Corianne; Chen, Rong et al. (2014) Partially overlapping sensorimotor networks underlie speech praxis and verbal short-term memory: evidence from apraxia of speech following acute stroke. Front Hum Neurosci 8:649
Matchin, William; Sprouse, Jon; Hickok, Gregory (2014) A structural distance effect for backward anaphora in Broca's area: an fMRI study. Brain Lang 138:1-11
Pillay, Sara B; Stengel, Benjamin C; Humphries, Colin et al. (2014) Cerebral localization of impaired phonological retrieval during rhyme judgment. Ann Neurol 76:738-46
Okada, Kayoko; Venezia, Jonathan H; Matchin, William et al. (2013) An fMRI Study of Audiovisual Speech Perception Reveals Multisensory Interactions in Auditory Cortex. PLoS One 8:e68959
Hillis, Argye E (2013) Deterioration or recovery of selective cognitive function can reveal the role of focal areas within networks of the brain. Behav Neurol 26:3-5
Hickok, Gregory (2013) Do mirror neurons subserve action understanding? Neurosci Lett 540:56-8

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