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Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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NYU study finds variations in speech-planning processes

Researchers from NYU Grossman found differences between speech-preparing processes in various parts of the brain by studying data from epilepsy patients.
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Manasa Gudavalli
File Photo: NYU Grossman School of Medicine. (Manasa Gudavalli for WSN)

Different parts of the brain may use different processes for preparing speech, according to a recent study by researchers from NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine. Researchers measured the time between stimulation of distinct areas of the brain and pauses in speech, and said that variations in the pauses indicated differences in speech preparation processes. 

Over the span of three years, the researchers analyzed brain-mapping recordings of 16 epilepsy patients. The recordings came from previous pre-surgery evaluations at NYU Langone. 

Heather Kabakoff, a speech pathologist at NYU Langone and the study’s lead author, said it will lay a foundation for further research on speech and communicative sciences. After presenting the study’s findings at a conference and refining the research into a finalized draft, the article was published in the journal Brain Communications on March 19. 

In an interview with WSN, Leyao Yu — a Ph.D. candidate at the Tandon School of Engineering who produced much of the data visualization published in the journal — said the research showed a shift from the notion that only a singular part of the brain processes speech.

“The major trend of the entire speech field is proceeding into a knowledge that what we used to think the traditional language areas that housed the language functions in our brain no longer exist as a distinct region,” Yu said. “It’s more like a blurred boundary that takes the involvement of multiple different regions of the brain.”

Werner Doyle, a neurosurgeon at NYU Langone and an author of the paper, told WSN that the findings could help neurosurgeons perform surgeries more safely on parts of the brain traditionally associated with language. However, he also said that there need to be more studies to confirm the researchers’ findings, given that they focused on preexisting patient data rather than data collected and tracked over time.

“This [study] would be very easy to reproduce right away by other researchers in different centers,” Doyle said. “Our center can easily then use this to also do a more prospective kind of thing.”

Kabakoff said that she hopes to research how the brain processes errors while speaking in the future.

“If you’re on Zoom or on the phone, and there’s a little delay, sometimes it’s debilitating — you can’t continue speaking,” Kabakoff said. “But other times, if it’s a short enough delay, maybe you can, or some people are better at continuing to speak and tuning out that feedback.”

Contact Krish Dev at [email protected]

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About the Contributors
Krish Dev, Multimedia Editor
Krish is a first-year planning to major in Computer Science and Linguistics at CAS. In his free time, he enjoys posting photos on @krish_dev.creations, obsessing over geography, watching new films with friends, taking public transport to new places and letting Arsenal make or break his week.
Manasa Gudavalli, Editor-in-Chief
Manasa Gudavalli is a super senior studying a super strange combination of psychology, mathematics, journalism, and chemistry. When they are not editing the Washington Square News, they are probably reading Freud, watching college football, or developing film photos. You can find them on Instagram @manasa.gudavalli and @gudavalli.photography.

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