Norm-based coding of voice identity in human auditory cortex

Latinus, M., McAleer, P. , Bestelmeyer, P. E.G. and Belin, P. (2013) Norm-based coding of voice identity in human auditory cortex. Current Biology, 23(12), pp. 1075-1080. (doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.04.055) (PMID:23707425) (PMCID:PMC3690478)

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Listeners exploit small interindividual variations around a generic acoustical structure to discriminate and identify individuals from their voice—a key requirement for social interactions. The human brain contains temporal voice areas (TVA) [1] involved in an acoustic-based representation of voice identity [2, 3, 4, 5 and 6], but the underlying coding mechanisms remain unknown. Indirect evidence suggests that identity representation in these areas could rely on a norm-based coding mechanism [4, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11]. Here, we show by using fMRI that voice identity is coded in the TVA as a function of acoustical distance to two internal voice prototypes (one male, one female)—approximated here by averaging a large number of same-gender voices by using morphing [12]. Voices more distant from their prototype are perceived as more distinctive and elicit greater neuronal activity in voice-sensitive cortex than closer voices—a phenomenon not merely explained by neuronal adaptation [13 and 14]. Moreover, explicit manipulations of distance-to-mean by morphing voices toward (or away from) their prototype elicit reduced (or enhanced) neuronal activity. These results indicate that voice-sensitive cortex integrates relevant acoustical features into a complex representation referenced to idealized male and female voice prototypes. More generally, they shed light on remarkable similarities in cerebral representations of facial and vocal identity.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McAleer, Dr Phil and Belin, Professor Pascal and Bestelmeyer, Dr Patricia and Latinus, Dr Marianne
Authors: Latinus, M., McAleer, P., Bestelmeyer, P. E.G., and Belin, P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Journal Name:Current Biology
Publisher:Elsevier Ltd.
ISSN (Online):1879-0445
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
First Published:First published in Current Biology 23(12):1075-1080
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
561961Audiovisual integration of identity information from the face and voice: a combined behavioural, fMRI and MEG studyPascal BelinBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)BB/I022287/1INP - CENTRE FOR COGNITIVE NEUROIMAGING