Candidate brain regions constituting a neural network for preattentive phonetic perception were identified with fMRI and multivariate multiple regression of imaging data. Stimuli contrasted along speech/nonspeech, acoustic, or phonetic complexity (three levels each) and natural/synthetic dimensions. Seven distributed brain regions’ activity correlated with speech and speech complexity dimensions, including five left-sided foci [posterior superior temporal gyrus (STG), angular gyrus, ventral occipitotemporal cortex, inferior/posterior supramarginal gyrus, and middle frontal gyrus (MFG)] and two right-sided foci (posterior STG and anterior insula). Only the left MFG discriminated natural and synthetic speech. The data also supported a parallel rather than serial model of auditory speech and nonspeech perception.
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