Neuromagnetic functional coupling during dichotic listening of speech sounds

Alfredo Brancucci, Stefania Della Penna, Claudio Babiloni, Fabrizio Vecchio, Paolo Capotosto, Davide Rossi, Raffaella Franciotti, Kathya Torquati, Vittorio Pizzella, Paolo M. Rossini, Gian Luca Romani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present magnetoencephalography (MEG) study tested the hypothesis of a phase synchronization (functional coupling) of cortical alpha rhythms (about 6-12 Hz) within a "speech" cortical neural network comprising bilateral primary auditory cortex and Wernicke's areas, during dichotic listening (DL) of consonant-vowel (CV) syllables. Dichotic stimulation was done with the CV-syllable pairs /da/-/ba/ (true DL, yielded by stimuli having high spectral overlap) and /da/-/ka/ (sham DL, obtained with stimuli having poor spectral overlap). Whole-head MEG activity (165 sensors) was recorded from 10 healthy right-handed non-musicians showing right ear advantage in a speech DL task. Functional coupling of alpha rhythms was defined as the spectral coherence at the following bands: alpha 1 (about 6-8 Hz), alpha 2 (about 8-10 Hz), and alpha 3 (about 10-12) with respect to the peak of individual alpha frequency. Results showed an inverse pattern of functional coupling: during DL of speech sounds, spectral coherence of the high-band alpha rhythms increased between left auditory and Wernicke's areas with respect to sham DL, whereas it decreased between left and right auditory areas. The increase of functional coupling within the left hemisphere would underlie the processing of the syllable presented to the right ear, which arrives to the left auditory cortex without the interference of the other syllable presented to the left ear. Conversely, the decrease of inter-hemispherical coupling of the high-band alpha might be due to the fact that the two auditory cortices do not receive the same information from the ears during DL. These results suggest that functional coupling of alpha rhythms can constitute a neural substrate for the lateralization of auditory stimuli during DL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-264
Number of pages12
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


  • Consonant-vowel (CV)-syllables
  • Dichotic listening
  • Functional coupling
  • Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
  • Primary auditory cortex
  • Spectral coherence
  • Wernicke's area

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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