How do YOU channel your inner Aaron Sorkin? 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

When we’re gabbing with our besties, the words just tumble out like an episode of The West Wing. But from where? How DO our brains produce the quick back-and-forth of conversational speech

Gregg Castellucci and colleagues at NYU and the University of Iowa went to the source. They attached sensors directly to six volunteers’ brains. 

While the sensors tracked their brain activity, the patients answered questions, completed simple tasks, and had conversations with the researchers.

Results? The patient’s brains started planning their responses BEFORE researchers even finished asking a question. The planning was occurring partially in a middle part of the brain– one not typically associated with speech! 

Some conditions, such as autism or stroke, can cause people to have speech complications. Knowing how our brain’s planning networks work can inform new treatments for them. 

Or…maybe a better script for when we’re on a first date? Just a thought. Spoken out loud.

Reference: Castellucci, G.A., Kovach, C.K., Howard, M.A. et al. A speech planning network for interactive language use. Nature (2022).