Speaking of which: Dissecting the neurocognitive network of language production in picture naming

T. Schuhmann*, N. Schiller, R.W. Goebel, A.T. Sack

*Corresponding author for this work

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The noninvasive methods of cognitive neuroscience offer new possibilities to study language. We used neuronavigated multisite transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to determine the functional relevance of 1) the posterior part of left superior temporal gyrus (Wernicke's area), 2) a midportion of Broca's area (slightly posterior/superior to apex of vertical ascending ramus), and 3) the midsection of the left middle temporal gyrus (MTG), during overt picture naming. Our chronometric TMS design enabled us to chart the time points at which neural activity in each of these regions functionally contributes to overt speech production. Our findings demonstrate that the midsection of left MTG becomes functionally relevant at 225 ms after picture onset, followed by Broca's area at 300 ms and Wernicke's area at 400 ms. Interestingly, during this late time window, the left MTG shows a second peak of functional relevance. Each area thus contributed during the speech production process at different stages, suggesting distinct underlying functional roles within this complex multicomponential skill. These findings are discussed and framed in the context of psycholinguistic models of speech production according to which successful speaking relies on intact, spatiotemporally specific feed forward and recurrent feedback loops within a left-hemispheric fronto-temporal brain connectivity network.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)701-709
JournalCerebral Cortex
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

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