A dual larynx motor networks hypothesis

Michel Belyk, Nicole Eichert, Carolyn McGettigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
118 Downloads (Pure)


Humans are vocal modulators par excellence. This ability is supported in
part by the dual representation of the laryngeal muscles in the motor
cortex. Movement, however, is not the product of motor cortex alone but of
a broader motor network. This network consists of brain regions that contain
somatotopic maps that parallel the organization in motor cortex. We therefore
present a novel hypothesis that the dual laryngeal representation is repeated
throughout the broader motor network. In support of the hypothesis, we
review existing literature that demonstrates the existence of network-wide
somatotopy and present initial evidence for the hypothesis’ plausibility.
Understanding how this uniquely human phenotype in motor cortex interacts
with broader brain networks is an important step toward understanding how
humans evolved the ability to speak. We further suggest that this system may
provide a means to study how individual components of the nervous system
evolved within the context of neuronal networks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Early online date1 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2021


  • motor cortex
  • brain networks


Dive into the research topics of 'A dual larynx motor networks hypothesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this