Functional Imaging of Speech
In order to flesh out details of our modeling framework, our lab designs and carries out a variety of
brain imaging studies in humans. Most of our work has concentrated on the use of functional magnetic
resonance imaging (fMRI), a technique that is sensitive to changes in blood oxygenation levels that
result from local brain activations. This method thus allows us to obtain statistical maps of cortical
activations that can easily be compared with simulations from our modeling work.
Because speech is only available for study in humans, fMRI is
an invaluable technique, as it is very safe and completely non-invasive.
We are also using magnetoencephalography (MEG), another completely non-invasive experimental method,
to augment and enhance our experimental data. MEG is a direct measure of brain activity in that it
measures magnetic field potentials produced at the scalp by synchronous firing of pyramidal cells in cortex with
millisecond resolution. One can also estimate the spatial locations of maximal activation in MEG,
although the resolution of this method is much lower than with fMRI. We are currently working on tools
to combine MEG results with fMRI results in the same subjects on the same behavioral task. Using
regions of activation from fMRI as 'seeds' to help solve the MEG inverse problem, we will be able to
look at fine time courses of activations in specific brain regions
involved in speech.
You can view a poster describing our functional imaging program
Our lab has also developed a suite of region-of-interest (ROI) based analysis tools for fMRI that are
available from the software page. We have shown that analyzing imaging
results based on anatomically defined regions of interest across subject, rather than using spatial averaging,
can significantly enhance statistical power.
fMRI studies are carried out at the NMR Center of the Massachusetts General Hospital.
MEG experiments are performed at the KIT/MIT MEG Joint Research Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute