The relationship of neuronal activity within the sensori-motor region of the subthalamic nucleus to speech

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Microelectrode recordings of human sensori-motor subthalamic neuronal activity during spoken sentence and syllable-repetition tasks provided an opportunity to evaluate the relationship between changes in neuronal activities and specific aspects of these vocal behaviors. Observed patterns of neuronal activity included a build up of activity in anticipation of the start of the utterance, a marked reduction in activity associated with the start of the utterance, and a burst of activity during the course of the sentence between the noun phrase and the verb phrase. Overall, changes of neuronal activity were more robust for the sentence repetition task. These data suggest that the basal ganglia play a role in generating meaningful speech utterances, which may parallel its role in complex sequential limb movements. It is possible that the basal ganglia play a role in generating the syntactical structure of language.

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