Norm-based coding of voice identity in human auditory cortex

Latinus, M. and McAleer, P. and Bestelmeyer, P.E.G. and Belin, P. (2013) Norm-based coding of voice identity in human auditory cortex. Current Biology, 23. pp. 1075-80. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.04.055

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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 [2,3,4,5,6], but the underlying coding mechanisms remain unknown. Indirect evidence suggests that identity representation in these areas could rely on a norm-based coding mechanism [4,7,8,9,10,11]. 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 [13,14]. 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: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Neuroimaging Psychology, Experimental
Subjects: Research Publications
Departments: College of Health and Behavioural Sciences > School of Psychology
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2014 03:53
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2015 03:06
ISSN: 0960-9822
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/3302
Identification Number: DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.04.055
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