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The sound of actions as reflected by mismatch negativity: Rapid activation of cortical sensory-motor networks by sounds associated with finger and tongue movements
In: Fourth Conference on Mismatch Negativity (MMN) and its Clinical and Scientific Applications, p.34
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To explore the activation dynamics of the human recognition system, we investigated electrophysiological distinctions between the brain responses to sounds produced by human finger and tongue movements. Of special interest were the questions how early these differences may occur, and whether the neural activation already at the early stages of processing involves cortical motor representations related to the generation of these sounds. For this purpose we employed a high-density EEG set-up and recorded mismatch negativity (MMN) using a recently developed novel multi-deviant paradigm which allows to acquire a high number of tongue clicks, as well as control stimuli with similar physical features, but without the clear action associations (this was tested in a seperate behavioural experiment). Both natural stimuli produced larger MMNs than their respective control stimuli already at around 100ms indicating activation of memory traces foir familiar action-related sounds. Furthermore, MMN topography at this latency differed between the brain responses to the natural finger and natural tongue sounds. Source estimation revealed strongest sources for finger sounds in centro-lateral areas of the left hemisphere, suggesting that hearing a sound related to finger actions evokes activity in motor areas associated with the dominant hand. Furthermore, tongue sounds produced stronger activation in more inferior brain areas in the right hemisphere. Our data suggest that motor areas in the human brain are part of the neural systems subserving the early automatic recognition of action-related sounds.