Maya Yablonski, Zuckerman-CHE Israeli Woman Postdoc (alum), publishes new Research in MIT’s Neurobiology of Language
Fluent speech production is a complex task that spans multiple processes, from conceptual framing and lexical access, through phonological encoding, to articulatory control. For the most part, imaging studies portraying the neural correlates of speech fluency tend to examine clinical populations sustaining speech impairments, and focus on either lexical access or articulatory control, but not both. Here, we evaluated the contribution of the cerebellar peduncles to speech fluency by measuring the different components of the process, in a sample of forty-five neurotypical adults. Participants underwent an unstructured interview to assess their natural speaking rate and articulation rate and completed timed semantic and phonemic fluency tasks to assess their verbal fluency.
Our findings support the contribution of the cerebellum to aspects of speech production that go beyond articulatory control, such as lexical access, pragmatic or syntactic generation. Further, we demonstrate that distinct cerebellar pathways dissociate different components of speech fluency in neurotypical speakers.