Several dual route models of human speech processing have been proposed suggesting a large-scale anatomical division between cortical regions that support motor–phonological aspects vs. lexical–semantic aspects of speech processing. However, to date, there is no complete agreement on what areas subserve each route or the nature of interactions across these routes that enables human speech processing. Relying on an extensive behavioral and neuroimaging assessment of a large sample of stroke survivors, we used a data-driven approach using principal components analysis of lesion-symptom mapping to identify brain regions crucial for performance on clusters of behavioral tasks without a priori separation into task types. Distinct anatomical boundaries were revealed between a dorsal frontoparietal stream and a ventral temporal–frontal stream associated with separate components. Collapsing over the tasks primarily supported by these streams, we characterize the dorsal stream as a form-to-articulation pathway and the ventral stream as a form-to-meaning pathway. This characterization of the division in the data reflects both the overlap between tasks supported by the two streams as well as the observation that there is a bias for phonological production tasks supported by the dorsal stream and lexical–semantic comprehension tasks supported by the ventral stream. As such, our findings show a division between two processing routes that underlie human speech processing and provide an empirical foundation for studying potential computational differences that distinguish between the two routes.
Component 1 (Form-to-meaning processing necessary for single word and sentence comprehension, also reversed (meaning-to-form processing) to support lexical–semantic aspects of speech production) is represented in Left, Component 2 (form-to-articulation processing) is represented in Center (Component 2a), and Component 2 modulated by a lesion component derived from lesion maps is represented in Right (Component 2b).