Voices and emotions: the forehead is the key

Researchers have discovered the regions of the brain we use to categorize emotions that are communicated vocally.


Motions and outward appearances deceive our enthusiastic state yet shouldn’t something be said about our voices? How does basic pitch enable us to unravel feelings – on the phone, for instance? By watching neuronal movement in the cerebrum, analysts at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, have possessed the capacity to outline cerebral locales we use to translate and arrange vocal enthusiastic portrayals.

The feelings and goals legitimately. The scientists additionally noticed the extreme system of associations that connections this region to the amygdala, the key organ for preparing feelings.

The upper piece of the transient projection in warm-blooded animals is connected to hearing specifically. A particular zone is devoted to the vocalizations of their congeners, making it conceivable to recognize them from (for instance) ecological commotions. Be that as it may, the voice is more than a sound to which we are particularly touchy: it is additionally a vector of feelings.

Didier Grandjean, professor in UNIGE’s Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences (SCAS) said, “When someone speaks to us, we use the acoustic information that we perceive in him or her and classify it according to various categories, such as anger, fear or pleasure.”

“This way of classifying emotions is called categorization, and we use it to establish that a person is sad or happy during a social interaction. Categorisation differs from discrimination, which consists of focusing attention on a particular state: detecting or looking for someone happy in a crowd, for example.”

But how does the brain categorize these emotions and determine what the other person is expressing? In an attempt to answer this question, Grandjean’s team analyzed the cerebral regions that are mobilized when constructing vocal emotional representations.

Voices and emotions: the forehead is the key
Significantly different cerebral activations in response to categorization (red-yellow) and discrimination (green-white) of vocal emotions. The temporal (superior temporal gyri), amygdala and frontal (orbitofrontal and inferior frontal gyri; pars opercularis) regions are activated more for categorizing than for discriminating emotions. The pars triangularis of the inferior frontal gyri regions are activated more for discrimination. These regions are also more strongly connected for categorization than for vocal emotion discrimination. © UNIGE

Scientists involved 16 students in the study. They then exposed them to a vocalization database consisting of six men’s voices and six women’s, all saying pseudo-words that were meaningless but uttered with emotion.

The members initially needed to order each voice in the matter of whether it was furious, nonpartisan or cheerful with the goal that the analysts could watch which region of the cerebrum was being utilized for categorization. Next, the subjects essentially needed to choose whether a voice was irate or upbeat or not all that the researchers could take a gander at the territory requested by segregation.

Sascha Frühholz, a researcher at UNIGE’s SCAS said, “Functional magnetic resonance imaging meant we could observe which areas were being activated in each case. We found that categorization and discrimination did not use exactly the same region of the inferior frontal cortex. 

Grandjean said, “We expected the frontal lobe to be involved, and had predicted the observation of two different sub-regions that would be activated depending on the action of categorizing or discriminating. In the first instance, it was the pars opercularis sub-region that corresponded to the categorization of voices, while in the second case – discrimination – it was the pars triangularis.”

“This distinction is linked not just to brain activations selective to the processes studied but is also due to the difference in connections with other cerebral regions that require these two operations.”

When we sort, we must be more exact than when we separate. That is the reason the worldly locale, the amygdala, and the orbitofrontal cortex – vital territories for feeling – are utilized to a substantially higher degree and are practically associated with the pars opercularis instead of the pars triangularis.

The exploration, which stresses the distinction between useful sub-domains in seeing feelings through vocal correspondence, demonstrates that the more perplexing and exact the procedures identified with feelings are, the more the frontal projection and its associations with other cerebral areas are requested.

There is a contrast between preparing fundamental sound data made by the upper piece of the fleeting projection and handling abnormal state data made by the frontal flap. It is the latter that enables social interaction by decoding the intention of the speaker.

Grandjean said, “Without this area, it is not possible to represent the emotions of the other person through his or her voice, and we no longer understand his or her expectations and have difficulty integrating contextual information, as in sarcasm.”

“We now know why an individual with a brain injury affecting the inferior frontal gyrus and the orbitofrontal regions can no longer interpret the emotions related to what his or her peers are saying, and may, as a result, adopt socially inappropriate behavior.”