Enhanced insular connectivity with speech sensorimotor regions in trained singers – a resting-state fMRI study
bioRxiv, October 2019
A.M. Zamorano, R.J. Zatorre, P. Vuust, A. Friberg, N. Birbaumer, B. Kleber
The insula contributes to the detection and integration of salient events during goal-directed behavior and facilitates the interaction between motor, multisensory, and cognitive networks. Task-fMRI studies have suggested that experience with singing can enhance access to these resources. However, the long-term effects of vocal motor training on insula-based networks are currently unknown. In this study, we used resting-state fMRI to explore experience-dependent differences in insula co-activation patterns between conservatory-trained singers and non-singers. We found enhanced insula connectivity in singers compared to non-singers with constituents of the speech sensorimotor network, including the cerebellum (lobule VI, crus 2), primary somatosensory cortex, the parietal lobes, and the thalamus. Moreover, accumulated singing training correlated positively with increased co-activation in bilateral primary sensorimotor cortices in the somatotopic representations of the larynx (left dorsal anterior insula, dAI) and the diaphragm (bilateral dAI)—crucial regions for motorcortical control of complex vocalizations—together with the thalamus (bilateral posterior insula/left dAI) and the left putamen (left dAI). The results of this study support the view that the insula plays a central role in the experience-dependent modulation of sensory integration within the vocal motor system, possibly by optimizing conscious and non-conscious aspects of salience processing associated with singing-related bodily signals.
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