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Suppression of the µ Rhythm during Speech and Non-Speech Discrimination Revealed by Independent Component Analysis: Implications for Sensorimotor Integration in Speech Processing

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072024
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Neuroscience
  • Sensory Perception
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Sensory Systems
  • Auditory System
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Engineering
  • Signal Processing
  • Speech Signal Processing
  • Social And Behavioral Sciences
  • Linguistics
  • Speech
  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Linguistics


Background Constructivist theories propose that articulatory hypotheses about incoming phonetic targets may function to enhance perception by limiting the possibilities for sensory analysis. To provide evidence for this proposal, it is necessary to map ongoing, high-temporal resolution changes in sensorimotor activity (i.e., the sensorimotor μ rhythm) to accurate speech and non-speech discrimination performance (i.e., correct trials.) Methods Sixteen participants (15 female and 1 male) were asked to passively listen to or actively identify speech and tone-sweeps in a two-force choice discrimination task while the electroencephalograph (EEG) was recorded from 32 channels. The stimuli were presented at signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs) in which discrimination accuracy was high (i.e., 80–100%) and low SNRs producing discrimination performance at chance. EEG data were decomposed using independent component analysis and clustered across participants using principle component methods in EEGLAB. Results ICA revealed left and right sensorimotor µ components for 14/16 and 13/16 participants respectively that were identified on the basis of scalp topography, spectral peaks, and localization to the precentral and postcentral gyri. Time-frequency analysis of left and right lateralized µ component clusters revealed significant (pFDR<.05) suppression in the traditional beta frequency range (13–30 Hz) prior to, during, and following syllable discrimination trials. No significant differences from baseline were found for passive tasks. Tone conditions produced right µ beta suppression following stimulus onset only. For the left µ, significant differences in the magnitude of beta suppression were found for correct speech discrimination trials relative to chance trials following stimulus offset. Conclusions Findings are consistent with constructivist, internal model theories proposing that early forward motor models generate predictions about likely phonemic units that are then synthesized with incoming sensory cues during active as opposed to passive processing. Future directions and possible translational value for clinical populations in which sensorimotor integration may play a functional role are discussed.

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