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Emotional expressions in voice and music: Same code, same effect?

Authors

  • Nicolas Escoffier,

    1. Department of Psychology, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
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  • Jidan Zhong,

    1. NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
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  • Annett Schirmer,

    1. Department of Psychology, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
    2. Duke/NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore, Singapore
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  • Anqi Qiu

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Bioengineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
    2. Clinical Imaging Research Centre, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
    3. Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore, Singapore
    • Department of Bioengineering, National University of Singapore, 9 Engineering Drive 1, Block EA #03-12, Singapore 117576, Singapore
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Abstract

Scholars have documented similarities in the way voice and music convey emotions. By using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) we explored whether these similarities imply overlapping processing substrates. We asked participants to trace changes in either the emotion or pitch of vocalizations and music using a joystick. Compared to music, vocalizations more strongly activated superior and middle temporal cortex, cuneus, and precuneus. However, despite these differences, overlapping rather than differing regions emerged when comparing emotion with pitch tracing for music and vocalizations, respectively. Relative to pitch tracing, emotion tracing activated medial superior frontal and anterior cingulate cortex regardless of stimulus type. Additionally, we observed emotion specific effects in primary and secondary auditory cortex as well as in medial frontal cortex that were comparable for voice and music. Together these results indicate that similar mechanisms support emotional inferences from vocalizations and music and that these mechanisms tap on a general system involved in social cognition. Hum Brain Mapp, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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