Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
How do animals distinguish between sensations coming from external sources and those resulting from their own actions? A corollary discharge system has evolved that involves the transmission of a copy of motor commands to sensory cortex, where the expected sensation is generated. Through this mechanism, sensations are tagged as coming from self, and responsiveness to them is minimized. The present study investigated whether neural phase synchrony between motor command and auditory cortical areas is related to the suppression of the auditory cortical response. We recorded electrocorticograms from the human brain during a vocalizing/listening task. Neural phase synchrony between Broca's area and auditory cortex in the gamma band (35 to ∼50 Hz) in the 50-msec time window preceding speech onset was greater during vocalizing than during listening to a playback of the same spoken sounds. Because prespeech neural synchrony was correlated (r = −.83, p = .006), with the subsequent suppression of the auditory cortical response to the spoken sound, we hypothesize that phase synchrony in the gamma band between Broca's area and auditory cortex is the neural instantiation of the transmission of a copy of motor commands. We suggest that neural phase synchrony of gamma frequencies may contribute to transmission of corollary discharges in humans.