Functional but not structural networks of the human laryngeal motor cortex show left hemispheric lateralization during syllable but not breathing production.” J Neurosci, 29, 47, Pp. 14912-23.Abstract. 2009. “
The laryngeal motor cortex (LMC) is indispensible for the vocal motor control of speech and song production. Patients with bilateral lesions in this region are unable to speak and sing, although their nonverbal vocalizations, such as laughter and cry, are preserved. Despite the importance of the LMC in the control of voluntary voice production in humans, the literature describing its connections remains sparse. We used diffusion tensor probabilistic tractography and functional magnetic resonance imaging-based functional connectivity analysis to identify LMC networks controlling two tasks necessary for speech production: voluntary voice as repetition of two different syllables and voluntary breathing as controlled inspiration and expiration. Peaks of activation during all tasks were found in the bilateral ventral primary motor cortex in close proximity to each other. Functional networks of the LMC during voice production but not during controlled breathing showed significant left-hemispheric lateralization (p < 0.0005). However, structural networks of the LMC associated with both voluntary voice production and controlled breathing had bilateral hemispheric organization. Our findings indicate the presence of a common bilateral structural network of the LMC, upon which different functional networks are built to control various voluntary laryngeal tasks. Bilateral organization of functional LMC networks during controlled breathing supports its indispensible role in all types of laryngeal behaviors. Significant left-hemispheric lateralization of functional networks during simple but highly learned voice production suggests the readiness of the LMC network for production of a complex voluntary behavior, such as human speech.