Subcortical laterality of speech encoding

Jane Hornickel*, Erika Skoe, Nina Kraus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


It is well established that in the majority of the population language processing is lateralized to the left hemisphere. Evidence suggests that lateralization is also present in the brainstem. In the current study, the syllable /da/ was presented monaurally to the right and left ears and electrophysiological responses from the brainstem were recorded in adults with symmetrical interaural click-evoked responses. Responses to the right-ear presentation occurred earlier than those to left-ear presentation in two peaks of the frequency following response (FFR) and approached significance for the third peak of the FFR and the offset peak. Interestingly, there were no differences in interpeak latencies indicating the response to right-ear presentation simply occurred earlier over this region. Analyses also showed more robust frequency encoding when stimuli were presented to the right ear than the left ear. The effect was found for the harmonics of the fundamental that correspond to the first formant of the stimulus, but was not seen in the fundamental frequency range. The results suggest that left lateralization of processing acoustic elements important for discriminating speech extends to the auditory brainstem and that these effects are speech specific.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-207
Number of pages10
JournalAudiology and Neurotology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Auditory brainstem responses
  • Electrophysiology
  • Subcortical lateralization of speech processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Speech and Hearing

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