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date: 05 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The human voice can convey a lot of socially important information, from which listeners infer the affective state of the speaker. The affective state of the speaker is expressed in certain voice features that concern intonations in non-verbal and verbal vocal expressions. The brain of the listener involves certain neurocognitive mechanisms in decoding the affective meaning of a voice. The chapter outlines the large-scale neural network that supports different functions for decoding affect from voices. This large-scale neural network is composed of the auditory cortex, the limbic system (i.e. the amygdala), and the inferior frontal cortex that provide an acoustic analysis, an emotional decoding, and an evaluation of affective voices, respectively. Additional brain systems, such as the basal ganglia, the hippocampus, and the medial frontal cortex, provide additional functional processes for decoding affective voices. Beyond this large-scale neural network, recent studies also point to a local subnetwork within the core network that provides additional subfunctions. These recent studies altogether point to a prioritized processing of affective voices, which is also able to facilitate other cognitive functions such as (spatial) attentional orientating, memory formation, and emotional regulation.

Keywords: voice, affect, non-verbal expression, prosody, auditory cortex, limbic system, neural network, neuroimaging, brain lesions

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