The functional and structural asymmetries of the superior temporal sulcus
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The superior temporal sulcus (STS) is an anatomical structure that increasingly interests researchers. This structure appears to receive multisensory input and is involved in several perceptual and cognitive core functions, such as speech perception, audiovisual integration, (biological) motion processing and theory of mind capacities. In addition, the superior temporal sulcus is not only one of the longest sulci of the brain, but it also shows marked functional and structural asymmetries, some of which have only been found in humans. To explore the functional‐structural relationships of these asymmetries in more detail, this study combines functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging. Using a speech perception task, an audiovisual integration task, and a theory of mind task, this study again demonstrated an involvement of the STS in these processes, with an expected strong leftward asymmetry for the speech perception task. Furthermore, this study confirmed the earlier described, human‐specific asymmetries, namely that the left STS is longer than the right STS and that the right STS is deeper than the left STS. However, this study did not find any relationship between these structural asymmetries and the detected brain activations or their functional asymmetries. This can, on the other hand, give further support to the notion that the structural asymmetry of the STS is not directly related to the functional asymmetry of the speech perception and the language system as a whole, but that it may have other causes and functions.