Human brain mechanisms for the early analysis of voices

Neuroimage. 2006 Jul 1;31(3):1389-97. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2006.01.034. Epub 2006 Mar 15.


In this functional magnetic resonance imaging study, we investigated human brain mechanisms that are involved in the analysis of voices as sound sources and in the pre-semantic analysis of voice information. The source of the voice was altered by changing the speaker, and the salience of the voice was altered by changing the amount of spectrotemporal detail. We identified a mechanism for detecting a change in the source of the voice in the posterior superior temporal lobe and anatomically distinct mechanisms for the detailed analysis of voice information in a bilateral network extending from the posterior to the anterior superior temporal lobe surrounding the superior temporal sulcus. The findings are consistent with a processing hierarchy in which general source attributes are analyzed in the posterior superior temporal lobe, abstraction of voice identity features occurs in posterior superior temporal sulcus, and further analysis of voice information occurs in anterior superior temporal sulcus and higher order cortices in the middle and anterior temporal lobe.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Oxygen / blood*
  • Phonetics*
  • Speech Acoustics*
  • Speech Perception / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Voice Quality / physiology*


  • Oxygen