The role of the motor system in discriminating normal and degraded speech sounds

Alessandro D'Ausilio, Ilaria Bufalari, Paola Salmas, Luciano Fadiga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Listening to speech recruits a network of fronto-temporo-parietal cortical areas. Classical models consider anterior, motor, sites involved in speech production whereas posterior sites involved in comprehension. This functional segregation is more and more challenged by action-perception theories suggesting that brain circuits for speech articulation and speech perception are functionally interdependent. Recent studies report that speech listening elicits motor activities analogous to production. However, the motor system could be crucially recruited only under certain conditions that make speech discrimination hard. Here, by using event-related double-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) on lips and tongue motor areas, we show data suggesting that the motor system may play a role in noisy, but crucially not in noise-free environments, for the discrimination of speech signals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)882-887
Number of pages6
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


  • Motor system
  • Motor theory of speech perception
  • Speech
  • TMS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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