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Ziegler, W. and Ackermann, H. (2017): Subcortical Contributions to Motor Speech: Phylogenetic, Developmental, Clinical. In: Trends in Neurosciences, Vol. 40, No. 8: pp. 458-468

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Vocal learning is an exclusively human trait among primates. However, songbirds demonstrate behavioral features resembling human speech learning. Two circuits have a preeminent role in this human behavior;namely, the corticostriatal and the cerebrocerebellar motor loops. While the striatal contribution can be traced back to the avian anterior forebrain pathway (AFP), the sensorimotor adaptation functions of the cerebellum appear to be human specific in acoustic communication. This review contributes to an ongoing discussion on how birdsong translates into human speech. While earlier approaches were focused on higher linguistic functions, we place the motor aspects of speaking at center stage. Genetic data are brought together with clinical and developmental evidence to outline the role of cerebrocerebellar and corticostriatal interactions in human speech.

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