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Human cerebral response to animal affective vocalizations

By Pascal Belin, Shirley Fecteau, Ian Charest, Nicholas Nicastro, Marc D Hauser, Jorge L Armony

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It is presently unknown whether our response to affective vocalizations is specific to those generated by humans or more universal, triggered by emotionally matched vocalizations generated by other species. Here, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging in normal participants to measure cerebral activity during auditory stimulation with affectively valenced animal vocalizations, some familiar (cats) and others not (rhesus monkeys). Positively versus negatively valenced vocalizations from cats and monkeys elicited different cerebral responses despite the participants' inability to differentiate the valence of these animal vocalizations by overt behavioural responses. Moreover, the comparison with human non-speech affective vocalizations revealed a common response to the valence in orbitofrontal cortex, a key component on the limbic system. These findings suggest that the neural mechanisms involved in processing human affective vocalizations may be recruited by heterospecific affective vocalizations at an unconscious level, supporting claims of shared emotional systems across species.


Katie Carroll

Date 2008
Publication Title Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society
Volume 275
Pages 473-481
Publisher The Royal Society
DOI doi:10.1098/rspb.2007.1460
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Brain
  2. Conspecifics
  3. Emotions
  4. functional magnetic resonance imaging
  5. Health
  6. Limbic system
  7. Magnetic resonance imaging
  8. vocalizations
  9. Voice