Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

Neurite architecture of the planum temporale predicts neurophysiological processing of auditory speech

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Science Advances  11 Jul 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 7, eaar6830
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar6830

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Abstract

The left hemispheric advantage in speech perception is reflected in faster neurophysiological processing. On the basis of postmortem data, it has been suggested that asymmetries in the organization of the intrinsic microcircuitry of the posterior temporal lobe may produce this leftward timing advantage. However, whether this hypothetical structure-function relationship exists in vivo has never been empirically validated. To test this assumption, we used in vivo neurite orientation dispersion and density imaging to quantify microcircuitry in terms of axon and dendrite complexity of the left and right planum temporale in 98 individuals. We found that a higher density of dendrites and axons in the temporal speech area is associated with faster neurophysiological processing of auditory speech, as reflected by electroencephalography. Our results imply that a higher density and higher number of synaptic contacts in the left posterior temporal lobe increase temporal precision and decrease latency of neurophysiological processes in this brain region.

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