Speech-evoked activity in primary auditory cortex: effects of voice onset time

Mitchell Steinschneider, Charles E. Schroeder, Joseph C. Arezzo, Herbert G. Vaughan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


Neural encoding of temporal speech features is a key component of acoustic and phonetic analyses. We examined the temporal encoding of the syllables /da/ and /ta/, which differ along the temporally based, phonetic parameter of voice onset time (VOT), in primary auditory cortex (A1) of awake monkeys using concurrent multilaminar recordings of auditory evoked potentials (AEP), the derived current source density, and multiunit activity. A general sequence of A1 activation consisting of a lamina-specific profile of parallel and sequential excitatory and inhibitory processes is described. VOT is encoded in the temporal response patterns of phase-locked activity to the periodic speech segments and by "on" responses to stimulus and voicing onset. A transformation occurs between responses in the thalamocortical (TC) fiber input and A1 cells. TC fibers are more likely to encode VOT with "on" responses to stimulus onset followed by phase-locked responses during the voiced segment, whereas A1 responses are more likely to exhibit transient responses both to stimulus and voicing onset. Relevance to subcortical speech processing, the human AEP and speech psychoacoustics are discussed. A mechanism for categorical differentiation of voiced and unvoiced consonants is proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-43
Number of pages14
JournalElectroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology/ Evoked Potentials
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1994


  • (Monkeys)
  • Auditory evoked potentials
  • Categorical perception
  • Current source density
  • Multiunit activity
  • Phonetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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