Exploring listening effort during challenging listening environments using engaging, naturalistic stories and fMRI.
Traditionally, fMRI studies of listening employ sentences or words to investigate speech processing, such as “John went to buy some bread”. In everyday life however, spoken language is meaningful, follows a narrative and engages the listener. Natural conversation presents us with successive sentences that are linked thematically, and this is fundamental for human communication. Using neuroimaging, and specifically fMRI, we aim to identify regions of the brain involved in narrative engagement during story listening and isolate these from regions that are recruited in the comprehension of degraded speech during the same story listening. Further, using inter-subject correlations, we ask whether humans show higher group synchronisation within the brain when listening to engaging, but challenging stories.