CCNY experts in lateralization of speech publish discovery

City College of New York-led researchers have published a breakthrough in understanding previously unknown inner workings related to the lateralization of speech processing in the brain. Their study, headed by biologist Hysell V. Oviedo of CCNY’s Division of Science and published in the journal “Nature Communications,” could shine a light on miswiring of brain circuits in neurodevelopmental communication disorders.

“The lateralization of language processing in the auditory cortical areas of the brain has been known for more than 150 years, but the function, neural mechanisms, and development of this hemispheric specialization is still   unknown,” said Oviedo, who’s also affiliated with the Graduate Center, CUNY.

Lateralization is referred to as the specialization of functions in the brain, commonly attributed to its left hemisphere and right hemisphere.

“This division of labor between the left and right auditory cortices in processing social communication is not unique to humans but is widespread in many species including mice. Using the mouse as an animal model, our study is the first to show that there are significant differences in the wiring diagram of the language centers in the brain that could underlie their distinct speech processing capabilities,” added Oviedo.

On possible outcomes of their research, Oviedo noted that communication deficits are the most common disabilities in children, affecting 8-12% of preschoolers.

“Although the causes of communication deficits vary, the underlying pathological mechanism routinely involves miswiring of the connections between neurons in the language centers of the brain.

“Our discovery of the wiring diagram relevant to communicative functions provides the opportunity to use the mouse as a model to study the molecular phenotypes that shape the development of vocalization processing and how it goes awry in neurodevelopmental communication disorders,” she concluded.

Other research team members included: Robert B. Levy, Tiemo Marquarding, Ashlan P. Reid; Christopher M. Pun (Macaulay Honors College at CCNY); and Nicolas Renier (Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle Epinière, Paris, France).

About The City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided a high quality and affordable education to generations of New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. CCNY embraces its role at the forefront of social change. It is ranked #1 by the Harvard-based Opportunity Insights out of 369 selective public colleges in the United States on the overall mobility indexThis measure reflects both access and outcomes, representing the likelihood that a student at CCNY can move up two or more income quintiles. In addition, the Center for World University Rankings places CCNY in the top 1.2% of universities worldwide in terms of academic excellence. More than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in eight professional schools and divisions, driven by significant funded research, creativity and scholarship. CCNY is as diverse, dynamic and visionary as New York City itself.  View CCNY Media Kit.

Jay Mwamba
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