Functional Mapping of Inner Speech Areas: A Preliminary Study with Portuguese Speakers

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11096)


Inner speech can be defined as the act of talking silently with ourselves. Several studies aimed to understand how this process is related to speech organization and language. Despite the advances, some results are still contradictory. Importantly, language dependency is scarcely studied. For this first study of inner speech for Portuguese native speakers using fMRI, we selected a confrontation naming task, consisting of 40 black and white line drawings. Five healthy participants were instructed to name in inner and in overt speech the visually presented image. fMRI data analysis considering the proposed inner speech paradigm identified several brain areas such as the left inferior frontal gyrus, including Broca’s area, supplementary motor area, precentral gyrus and left middle temporal gyrus including Wernicke’s area. Our results also show more pronounced bilateral activations during the overt speech task when compared to inner speech, suggesting that inner and overt speech activate similar areas but stronger activation can be found in the later. However, this difference stems in particular from significant activation differences in the right pre-central gyrus and middle temporal gyrus.


Inner speech portuguese First keyword Overt speech fMRI Portuguese 


  1. 1.
    Bouhali, F., de Schotten, M.T., Pinel, P., Poupon, C., Mangin, J.F., Dehaene, S., Cohen, L.: Anatomical connections of the visual word form area. J. Neurosci. 34(46), 15402–15414 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bray, S., Almas, R., Arnold, A.E., Iaria, G., MacQueen, G.: Intraparietal sulcus activity and functional connectivity supporting spatial working memory manipulation. Cereb. Cortex 25(5), 1252–1264 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cohen, L., Dehaene, S., Naccache, L., Lehéricy, S., Dehaene-Lambertz, G., Hénaff, M.A., Michel, F.: The visual word form area: spatial and temporal characterization of an initial stage of reading in normal subjects and posterior split-brain patients. Brain 123(2), 291–307 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Cohen, L., Lehéricy, S., Chochon, F., Lemer, C., Rivaud, S., Dehaene, S.: Language-specific tuning of visual cortex? functional properties of the visual word form area. Brain 125(5), 1054–1069 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dehaene, S., Le Clec’H, G., Poline, J.B., Le Bihan, D., Cohen, L.: The visual word form area: a prelexical representation of visual words in the fusiform gyrus. Neuroreport 13(3), 321–325 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Geva, S., Jones, P.S., Crinion, J.T., Price, C.J., Baron, J.C., Warburton, E.A.: The neural correlates of inner speech defined by voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping. Brain 134(10), 3071–3082 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Grefkes, C., Fink, G.R.: The functional organization of the intraparietal sulcus in humans and monkeys. J. Anat. 207(1), 3–17 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Huang, J., Carr, T.H., Cao, Y.: Comparing cortical activations for silent and overt speech using event-related fMRI. Hum. Brain Mapp. 15(1), 39–53 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Jones, S.R., Fernyhough, C.: Neural correlates of inner speech and auditory verbal hallucinations: a critical review and theoretical integration. Clin. Psychol. Rev. 27(2), 140–154 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Logothetis, N.K.: What we can do and what we cannot do with fMRI. Nature 453(7197), 869 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Majerus, S.: Language repetition and short-term memory: an integrative framework. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 7, 357 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Marvel, C.L., Desmond, J.E.: From storage to manipulation: how the neural correlates of verbal working memory reflect varying demands on inner speech. Brain Lang. 120(1), 42–51 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Morin, A.: Inner speech. In: Hirstein, W. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, pp. 436–443. Elsevier, London (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Morin, A., Hamper, B.: Self-reflection and the inner voice: activation of the left inferior frontal gyrus during perceptual and conceptual self-referential thinking. Open Neuroimaging J. 6, 78–89 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Morin, A., Michaud, J.: Self-awareness and the left inferior frontal gyrus: inner speech use during self-related processing. Brain Res. Bull. 74(6), 387–396 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Morin, A., Uttl, B., Hamper, B.: Self-reported frequency, content, and functions of inner speech. Procedia - Soc. Behav. Sci. 30, 1714–1718 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Palmer, E.D., Rosen, H.J., Ojemann, J.G., Buckner, R.L., Kelley, W.M., Petersen, S.E.: An event-related fMRI study of overt and covert word stem completion. Neuroimage 14(1), 182–193 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Perrone-Bertolotti, M., Rapin, L., Lachaux, J.P., Baciu, M., Loevenbruck, H.: What is that little voice inside my head? inner speech phenomenology, its role in cognitive performance, and its relation to self-monitoring. Behav. Brain Res. 261, 220–239 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Shergill, S.S., Brammer, M.J., Fukuda, R., Bullmore, E., Amaro, E., Murray, R.M., McGuire, P.K.: Modulation of activity in temporal cortex during generation of inner speech. Hum. Brain Mapp. 16(4), 219–227 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Snodgrass, J.G., Vanderwart, M.: A standardized set of 260 pictures: norms for name agreement, image agreement, familiarity, and visual complexity. J. Exper. Psychol. Hum. Learn. Mem. 6(2), 174 (1980)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Stephan, F., Saalbach, H., Rossi, S.: How the brain plans inner and overt speech production: a combined EEG and fNIRS study. In: 23rd Annual Meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM), Vancouver, Canada (2017)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Stevens, W.D., Kravitz, D.J., Peng, C.S., Tessler, M.H., Martin, A.: Privileged functional connectivity between the visual word form area and the language system. J. Neurosci. 37(21), 5288–5297 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Tagamets, M.A., Novick, J.M., Chalmers, M.L., Friedman, R.B.: A parametric approach to orthographic processing in the brain: an fMRI study. J. Cogn. Neurosci. 12(2), 281–297 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Talairach, J., Tournoux, P.: Co-planar Stereotaxic Atlas of the Human Brain. Thieme, New York (1988)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Vigneau, M., Jobard, G., Mazoyer, B., Tzourio-Mazoyer, N.: Word and non-word reading: what role for the visual word form area? Neuroimage 27(3), 694–705 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Willinek, W.A., Schild, H.H.: Clinical advantages of 3.0 T MRI over 1.5 T. Eur. J. Radiol. 65(1), 2–14 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Nuclear Sciences Applied to HealthUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  2. 2.CIBIT Coimbra Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Translational Research, ICNASUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  3. 3.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  4. 4.Center for Informatics and SystemsUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  5. 5.School of Health SciencesUniversity of AveiroAveiroPortugal
  6. 6.Center for Health Technology and Services ResearchUniversity of AveiroAveiroPortugal
  7. 7.Institute of BiomedicineUniversity of AveiroAveiroPortugal
  8. 8.Institute of Electronics and Telematics Engineering of Aveiro (IEETA)AveiroPortugal
  9. 9.Department of Electronics, Telecommunications and InformaticsUniversity of AveiroAveiroPortugal
  10. 10.Perspectum DiagnosticsOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations