Electrophysiological evidence of functional integration between the language and motor systems in the brain: A study of the speech Bereitschaftspotential

J. J. McArdle, Z. Mari, R. H. Pursley, G. M. Schulz, A. R. Braun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: We investigated whether the Bereitschaftspotential (BP), an event related potential believed to reflect motor planning, would be modulated by language-related parameters prior to speech. We anticipated that articulatory complexity would produce effects on the BP distribution similar to those demonstrated for complex limb movements. We also hypothesized that lexical semantic operations would independently impact the BP. Methods: Eighteen participants performed 3 speech tasks designed to differentiate lexical semantic and articulatory contributions to the BP. EEG epochs were time-locked to the earliest source of speech movement per trial. Lip movements were assessed using EMG recordings. Doppler imaging was used to determine the onset of tongue movement during speech, providing a means of identification and elimination of potential artifact. Results: Compared to simple repetition, complex articulations produced an anterior shift in the maximum midline BP. Tasks requiring lexical search and selection augmented these effects and independently elicited a left lateralized asymmetry in the frontal distribution. Conclusions: The findings indicate that the BP is significantly modulated by linguistic processing, suggesting that the premotor system might play a role in lexical access. Significance: These novel findings support the notion that the motor systems may play a significant role in the formulation of language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-284
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009


  • Bereitschaftspotential
  • ERP
  • Language
  • Lexical access
  • Motor
  • Speech

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Sensory Systems


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