October 30, 2020

Visual speech differentially modulates beta, theta, and high gamma bands in auditory cortex

Speech perception is a central component of social communication. While speech perception is primarily driven by sounds, accurate perception in everyday settings is also supported by meaningful information extracted from visual cues (e.g., speech content, timing, and speaker identity). Previous research has shown that visual speech modulates activity in cortical areas subserving auditory speech perception, including the superior temporal gyrus (STG), likely through feedback connections from the multisensory posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS). However, it is unknown whether visual modulation of auditory processing in the STG is a unitary phenomenon or, rather, consists of multiple temporally, spatially, or functionally discrete processes. To explore these questions, we examined neural responses to audiovisual speech in electrodes implanted intracranially in the temporal cortex of 21 patients undergoing clinical monitoring for epilepsy. We found that visual speech modulates auditory processes in the STG in multiple ways, eliciting temporally and spatially distinct patterns of activity that differ across theta, beta, and high-gamma frequency bands. Before speech onset, visual information increased high-gamma power in the posterior STG and suppressed beta power in mid-STG regions, suggesting crossmodal prediction of speech signals in these areas. After sound onset, visual speech decreased theta power in the middle and posterior STG, potentially reflecting a decrease in sustained feedforward auditory activity. These results are consistent with models that posit multiple distinct mechanisms supporting audiovisual speech perception.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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