Reading, hearing, and the planum temporale


Many neuroimaging studies of single-word reading have been carried out over the last 15 years, and a consensus as to the brain regions relevant to this task has emerged. Surprisingly, the planum temporale (PT) does not appear among the catalog of consistently active regions in these investigations. Recently, however, several studies have offered evidence suggesting that the left posteromedial PT plays a role in both speech production and speech perception. It is not clear, then, why so many neuroimaging studies of single-word reading-a task requiring speech production-have tended not to find evidence of PT involvement. In the present work, we employed a high-powered rapid event-related fMRI paradigm involving both single pseudoword reading and single pseudoword listening to assess activity related to reading and speech perception in the PT as a function of the degree of spatial smoothing applied to the functional images. We show that the speech area of the PT [Sylvian-parietal-temporal (Spt)] is best identified when only a moderate (5 mm) amount of spatial smoothing is applied to the data before statistical analysis. Moreover, increasing the smoothing window to 10 mm obliterates activation in the PT, suggesting that failure to find PT activation in past studies may relate to this factor. © 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.