Task-dependent cortical activations during selective attention to audiovisual speech

Artturi Ylinen*, Patrik Wikman, Miika Leminen, Kimmo Alho

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
68 Downloads (Pure)


Selective listening to speech depends on widespread networks of the brain, but how the involvement of different neural systems in speech processing is affected by factors such as the task performed by a listener and speech intelligibility remains poorly understood. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to systematically examine the effects that performing different tasks has on neural activations during selective attention to continuous audiovisual speech in the presence of task-irrelevant speech. Participants viewed audiovisual dialogues and attended either to the semantic or the phonological content of speech, or ignored speech altogether and performed a visual control task. The tasks were factorially combined with good and poor auditory and visual speech qualities. Selective attention to speech engaged superior temporal regions and the left inferior frontal gyrus regardless of the task. Frontoparietal regions implicated in selective auditory attention to simple sounds (e.g., tones, syllables) were not engaged by the semantic task, suggesting that this network may not be not as crucial when attending to continuous speech. The medial orbitofrontal cortex, implicated in social cognition, was most activated by the semantic task. Activity levels during the phonological task in the left prefrontal, premotor, and secondary somatosensory regions had a distinct temporal profile as well as the highest overall activity, possibly relating to the role of the dorsal speech processing stream in sub-lexical processing. Our results demonstrate that the task type influences neural activations during selective attention to speech, and emphasize the importance of ecologically valid experimental designs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number147739
Number of pages16
JournalBrain Research
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Audiovisual speech processing
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Selective attention to speech
  • Task-dependent effects


Dive into the research topics of 'Task-dependent cortical activations during selective attention to audiovisual speech'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this