Convergence of spoken and written language processing in the superior temporal sulcus

Stephen M. Wilson, Alexa Bautista, Angelica McCarron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Spoken and written language processing streams converge in the superior temporal sulcus (STS), but the functional and anatomical nature of this convergence is not clear. We used functional MRI to quantify neural responses to spoken and written language, along with unintelligible stimuli in each modality, and employed several strategies to segregate activations on the dorsal and ventral banks of the STS. We found that intelligible and unintelligible inputs in both modalities activated the dorsal bank of the STS. The posterior dorsal bank was able to discriminate between modalities based on distributed patterns of activity, pointing to a role in encoding of phonological and orthographic word forms. The anterior dorsal bank was agnostic to input modality, suggesting that this region represents abstract lexical nodes. In the ventral bank of the STS, responses to unintelligible inputs in both modalities were attenuated, while intelligible inputs continued to drive activation, indicative of higher level semantic and syntactic processing. Our results suggest that the processing of spoken and written language converges on the posterior dorsal bank of the STS, which is the first of a heterogeneous set of language regions within the STS, with distinct functions spanning a broad range of linguistic processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-74
Number of pages13
StatePublished - May 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Dorsal bank
  • Functional MRI
  • Language comprehension
  • Narrative
  • Ventral bank

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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