Considerable progress has been recently made in understanding the brain mechanisms underlying speech and language control. However, the neurochemical underpinnings of normal speech production remain largely unknown. We investigated the extent of striatal endogenous dopamine release and its influences on the organization of functional striatal speech networks during production of meaningful English sentences using a combination of positron emission tomography (PET) with the dopamine D2/D3 receptor radioligand [11C]raclopride and functional MRI (fMRI). In addition, we used diffusion tensor tractography (DTI) to examine the extent of dopaminergic modulatory influences on striatal structural network organization. We found that, during sentence production, endogenous dopamine was released in the ventromedial portion of the dorsal striatum, in both its associative and sensorimotor functional divisions. In the associative striatum, speech-induced dopamine release established a significant relationship with neural activity and influenced the left-hemispheric lateralization of striatal functional networks. In contrast, there were no significant effects of endogenous dopamine release on the lateralization of striatal structural networks. Our data provide the first evidence for endogenous dopamine release in the dorsal striatum during normal speaking and point to the possible mechanisms behind the modulatory influences of dopamine on the organization of functional brain circuits controlling normal human speech.
- Speech functional networks
- Structural networks