Perceiving speech while performing another task is a common challenge in everyday life. How the brain controls resource allocation in such conditions is poorly understood. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we aimed to identify the brain structures involved in dual-tasking management.
We measured brain responses of participants performing a simple speech task (did you hear "gi" or "ki"?) while holding visual images in short-term memory. We found that the memory task decreased activity in the auditory cortex and increased activity in regions known to contribute to attention regulation (anterior paracingulate and cingulate cortex). We conclude that the acoustic analysis of speech is not isolated from the rest of cognition. Instead, it interacts with other sensory modalities and is under the control of a central regulator of attention.
Dr Gennari's research focuses on the representation of time in language and memory and sentence processing.
Professor Mattys is interested in the perceptual, cognitive, and physiological mechanisms underlying speech recognition.