Introduction: Few of us are skilled lipreaders while most struggle with the task. Neural substrates that enable comprehension of connected natural speech via lipreading are not yet well understood. Methods: We used a data-driven approach to identify brain areas underlying the lipreading of an 8-min narrative with participants whose lipreading skills varied extensively (range 6–100%, mean = 50.7%). The participants also listened to and read the same narrative. The similarity between individual participants’ brain activity during the whole narrative, within and between conditions, was estimated by a voxel-wise comparison of the Blood Oxygenation Level Dependent (BOLD) signal time courses. Results: Inter-subject correlation (ISC) of the time courses revealed that lipreading, listening to, and reading the narrative were largely supported by the same brain areas in the temporal, parietal and frontal cortices, precuneus, and cerebellum. Additionally, listening to and reading connected naturalistic speech particularly activated higher-level linguistic processing in the parietal and frontal cortices more consistently than lipreading, probably paralleling the limited understanding obtained via lip-reading. Importantly, higher lipreading test score and subjective estimate of comprehension of the lipread narrative was associated with activity in the superior and middle temporal cortex. Conclusions: Our new data illustrates that findings from prior studies using well-controlled repetitive speech stimuli and stimulus-driven data analyses are also valid for naturalistic connected speech. Our results might suggest an efficient use of brain areas dealing with phonological processing in skilled lipreaders.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Behavioral Neuroscience