Research in Brief: Speech Uses Both Sides of the Brain People use both sides of the brain for speech, according to a study published Jan. 14 in the journal Nature (bit.ly/bilateral-speech), a finding that alters previous conceptions about neurological activity. The results also offer insights into addressing speech-related inhibitions caused by stroke or injury, and lay the groundwork for better ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   March 01, 2014
Research in Brief: Speech Uses Both Sides of the Brain
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Special Populations / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Traumatic Brain Injury / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   March 01, 2014
Research in Brief: Speech Uses Both Sides of the Brain
The ASHA Leader, March 2014, Vol. 19, 18. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB5.19032014.18
The ASHA Leader, March 2014, Vol. 19, 18. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB5.19032014.18
People use both sides of the brain for speech, according to a study published Jan. 14 in the journal Nature (bit.ly/bilateral-speech), a finding that alters previous conceptions about neurological activity. The results also offer insights into addressing speech-related inhibitions caused by stroke or injury, and lay the groundwork for better rehabilitation methods.
Many in the scientific community have posited that both speech and language are lateralized, meaning that people use only one side of the brain for speech—which involves listening—and language, which involves constructing and understanding sentences. But these conclusions are based on studies that rely on indirect brain activity measurements, raising questions about whether speech is entirely lateralized.
New York University Center for Neural Science researchers—led by Bijan Pesaran—directly examined the connection between speech and the neurological process. They analyzed data collected at NYU ECoG, where brain activity is recorded directly from patients implanted with specialized electrodes— placed inside and on the surface of the brain—while the patients perform sensory and cognitive tasks. The researchers examined brain functions of patients suffering from epilepsy (six males and 10 females, ages 17–51) by using methods that coincided with their medical treatment, a rare opportunity.
In their examination, the researchers tested the parts of the brain used during speech, asking participants to repeat two nonwords—“kig” and “pob.” By using nonwords as a prompt to gauge neurological activity, the researchers were able to isolate speech from language.
A brain activity analysis as patients engaged in speech tasks showed that patients used both sides of the brain—indicating that speech is, in fact, bilateral. The insights will help researchers develop new ways to help people trying to regain speech after brain damage, isolating speech recovery treatment that doesn’t involve language.
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March 2014
Volume 19, Issue 3