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Fast periodic auditory stimulation reveals a robust categorical response to voices in the human brain

Abstract : Voices are arguably among the most relevant sounds in humans' everyday life, and several studies have suggested the existence of voice-selective regions in the human brain. Despite two decades of research, defining the human brain regions supporting voice recognition remains challenging. Moreover, whether neural selectivity to voices is merely driven by acoustic properties specific to human voices (e.g., spectrogram, harmonicity), or whether it also reflects a higherlevel categorization response is still under debate. Here, we objectively measured rapid automatic categorization responses to human voices with fast periodic auditory stimulation (FPAS) combined with electroencephalography (EEG). Participants were tested with stimulation sequences containing heterogeneous non-vocal sounds from different categories presented at 4 Hz (i.e., four stimuli/s), with vocal sounds appearing every three stimuli (1.333 Hz). A few minutes of stimulation are sufficient to elicit robust 1.333 Hz voice-selective focal brain responses over superior temporal regions of individual participants. This response is virtually absent for sequences using frequency-scrambled sounds, but is clearly observed when voices are presented among sounds from musical instruments matched for pitch and harmonicity-to-noise ratio (HNR). Overall, our FPAS paradigm demonstrates that the human brain seamlessly categorizes human voices when compared with other sounds including musical instruments' sounds matched for low level acoustic features and that voice-selective responses are at least partially independent from low-level acoustic features, making it a powerful and versatile tool to understand human auditory categorization in general.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03437732
Contributor : Bruno Rossion Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Saturday, November 20, 2021 - 12:58:09 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 24, 2021 - 3:16:58 AM

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Francesca Barbero, Roberta Calce, Siddharth Talwar, Bruno Rossion, Olivier Collignon. Fast periodic auditory stimulation reveals a robust categorical response to voices in the human brain. eNeuro, Society for Neuroscience, 2021, 8 (3), pp.ENEURO.0471 - 20.2021. ⟨10.1523/eneuro.0471-20.2021⟩. ⟨hal-03437732⟩

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