Scientific article

Emotional voice areas: anatomic location, functional properties, and structural connections revealed by combined fMRI/DTI

Published inCerebral cortex, vol. 22, no. 1, p. 191-200
Publication date2012

We determined the location, functional response profile, and structural fiber connections of auditory areas with voice- and emotion-sensitive activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging. Bilateral regions responding to emotional voices were consistently found in the superior temporal gyrus, posterolateral to the primary auditory cortex. Event-related fMRI showed stronger responses in these areas to voices-expressing anger, sadness, joy, and relief, relative to voices with neutral prosody. Their neural responses were primarily driven by prosodic arousal, irrespective of valence. Probabilistic fiber tracking revealed direct structural connections of these "emotional voice areas" (EVA) with ipsilateral medial geniculate body, which is the major input source of early auditory cortex, as well as with the ipsilateral inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and inferior parietal lobe (IPL). In addition, vocal emotions (compared with neutral prosody) increased the functional coupling of EVA with the ipsilateral IFG but not IPL. These results provide new insights into the neural architecture of the human voice processing system and support a crucial involvement of IFG in the recognition of vocal emotions, whereas IPL may subserve distinct auditory spatial functions, consistent with distinct anatomical substrates for the processing of "how" and "where" information within the auditory pathways.

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Arousal
  • Auditory Pathways/blood supply/physiology
  • Auditory Perception/physiology
  • Brain/blood supply/physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Emotions/physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Nerve Fibers/physiology
  • Oxygen/blood
  • Voice/physiology
  • Young Adult
Citation (ISO format)
ETHOFER, Thomas Stefan et al. Emotional voice areas: anatomic location, functional properties, and structural connections revealed by combined fMRI/DTI. In: Cerebral cortex, 2012, vol. 22, n° 1, p. 191–200. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhr113
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1047-3211

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