Predicting “When” in Discourse Engages the Human Dorsal Auditory Stream: An fMRI Study Using Naturalistic Stories
The brain ‘listens’ to different kinds of story content through different neural pathways by separating speech into ‘what’ and ‘when’ components.
A team of neuroscientists at the University of South Australia in Adelaide and the University of Marburg in Germany scanned the brains of 22 German-speaking subjects as they lay inside a magnetic resonance imaging machine and listened to different stories that tested neural responses. The researchers found that the back part of the brain’s auditory system responded to time-related information — such as when a character reappears in a story — with weaker brain responses for anticipated story details, than surprising ones. The front part handled content-related information.
The finding, published in the Journal of Neuroscience , is the first to show this kind of split language processing extends to the rich discourses, narratives and texts that comprise our normal use of language.
- Journal of Neuroscience 36, 12180–12191 (2016). doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4100-15.2016