Electrophysiology of the Human Superior Temporal Sulcus during Speech Processing

Kirill V. Nourski, Mitchell Steinschneider, Ariane E. Rhone, Christopher K. Kovach, Matthew I. Banks, Bryan M. Krause, Hiroto Kawasaki, Matthew A. Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The superior temporal sulcus (STS) is a crucial hub for speech perception and can be studied with high spatiotemporal resolution using electrodes targeting mesial temporal structures in epilepsy patients. Goals of the current study were to clarify functional distinctions between the upper (STSU) and the lower (STSL) bank, hemispheric asymmetries, and activity during self-initiated speech. Electrophysiologic properties were characterized using semantic categorization and dialog-based tasks. Gamma-band activity and alpha-band suppression were used as complementary measures of STS activation. Gamma responses to auditory stimuli were weaker in STSL compared with STSU and had longer onset latencies. Activity in anterior STS was larger during speaking than listening; the opposite pattern was observed more posteriorly. Opposite hemispheric asymmetries were found for alpha suppression in STSU and STSL. Alpha suppression in the STS emerged earlier than in core auditory cortex, suggesting feedback signaling within the auditory cortical hierarchy. STSL was the only region where gamma responses to words presented in the semantic categorization tasks were larger in subjects with superior task performance. More pronounced alpha suppression was associated with better task performance in Heschl's gyrus, superior temporal gyrus, and STS. Functional differences between STSU and STSL warrant their separate assessment in future studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1131-1148
Number of pages18
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021


  • alpha suppression
  • auditory cortex
  • gamma activity
  • intracranial electrophysiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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