PET activation studies comparing two speech tasks widely used in surgical mapping

Diana Vanlancker-Sidtis, Anthony Randal McIntosh, Scott Grafton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


"Automatic" speech, especially counting, is frequently preserved in aphasia, even when word production is severely impaired. Although brain sites and processes for automatic speech are not well understood, counting is frequently used to elicit fluent speech during preoperative and intraoperative cortical mapping for language. Obtaining both behavioral and functional brain imaging measures, this study compared counting with a word production task (generation of animal names), including non-verbal vocalizations and quiet rest as control states, in normal and aphasic subjects. Behavioral data indicated that normal and aphasic groups did not differ in counting or non-verbal vocalizations, but did differ significantly in word production ("naming" animals). Functional brain imaging results on normal subjects using partial least squares analysis of PET rCBF images revealed three significant latent variables (LVs): one for naming and vocalizing, identifying bilateral anterior areas, with left predominating over right; a second LV for naming, identifying left and right frontal and temporal areas. For the third, only marginally significant LV, which was associated with automatic speech alone (counting), right and subcortical sites predominated. For patients, two LVs emerged, identified with naming and vocalization, and corresponding to a variety of cerebral sites; the analysis failed to find a specific latent variable for counting. A comparison between group data for normal subjects and patients suggested that the naming, counting, and vocalization tasks were performed differently by the two groups. These results suggest that word generation as a verbal task is more likely to elicit activity in classical language areas than counting. Further studies are suggested to better understand differences between neurological substrates for non-propositional and automatic speech.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-261
Number of pages17
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2003


  • Automatic speech
  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Functional mapping
  • Human
  • Language
  • Speech

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing


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