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Hemispheric asymmetries in phonological processing of tones versus segmental units

Li, Xiaojiana; Gandour, Jackson T.b; Talavage, Thomasc d; Wong, Donalde; Hoffa, Angelac; Lowe, Markf; Dzemidzic, Mariog

doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e32833b0a10
Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology

The aim of this functional magnetic resonance imaging study is to identify neuroanatomical substrates underlying phonological processing of segmental (consonant, rhyme) and suprasegmental (tone) units. An auditory verbal recognition paradigm was used in which native speakers of Mandarin Chinese were required to match a phonological unit that occurs in a list of three syllables to the corresponding unit of a following probe. The results show that hemispheric asymmetries arise depending on the type of phonological unit. In direct contrasts between phonological units, tones, relative to consonants and rhymes, yield increased activation in frontoparietal areas of the right hemisphere. This finding indicates that the cortical circuitry subserving lexical tones differs from that of consonants or rhymes.

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aResearch Center for Psychological Application, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, PR China

bDepartment of Speech Language Hearing Sciences

cSchool of Electrical and Computer Engineering

dWeldon School of Biomedical Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette

eDepartments of Anatomy and Cell Biology

fImaging Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio

gNeurology and Radiology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Correspondence to Jackson T. Gandour, PhD, Department of Speech Language Hearing Sciences, Purdue University, 1353 Heavilon Hall, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2038, USA

Tel: +1 765 494 3821; fax: +1 765 494 0771; e-mail: gandour@purdue.edu

Received 22 March 2010 accepted 15 April 2010

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© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.