January 17, 2021

Left frontal motor delta oscillations reflect the temporal integration of multimodal speech

During multimodal speech perception, slow delta oscillations (~1 – 3 Hz) in the listener’s brain synchronize with speech signal, likely reflecting signal decomposition at the service of comprehension. In particular, fluctuations imposed onto the speech amplitude envelope by a speaker’s prosody seem to temporally align with articulatory and body gestures, thus providing two complementary sensations to the speech signal’s temporal structure. Further, endogenous delta oscillations in the left motor cortex align with speech and music beat, suggesting a role in the temporal integration of (quasi)-rhythmic stimulations. We propose that delta activity facilitates the temporal alignment of a listener’s oscillatory activity with the prosodic fluctuations in a speaker’s speech during multimodal speech perception. We recorded EEG responses in an audiovisual synchrony detection task while participants watched videos of a speaker. To test the temporal alignment of visual and auditory prosodic features, we filtered the speech signal to remove verbal content. Results confirm (i) that participants accurately detected audiovisual synchrony, and (ii) greater delta power in left frontal motor regions in response to audiovisual asynchrony. The latter effect correlated with behavioural performance, and (iii) decreased delta-beta coupling in the left frontal motor regions when listeners could not accurately integrate visual and auditory prosodies. Together, these findings suggest that endogenous delta oscillations align fluctuating prosodic information conveyed by distinct sensory modalities onto a common temporal organisation in multimodal speech perception.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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