Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Can You See The Emotions I Hear? Brain Imaging Study Says Yes

Date:
May 15, 2009
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
By observing the pattern of activity in the brain, scientists have discovered they can "read" whether a person just heard words spoken in anger, joy, relief, or sadness. The discovery is the first to show that emotional information is represented by distinct spatial signatures in the brain that can be generalized across speakers.

By observing the pattern of activity in the brain, scientists have discovered they can "read" whether a person just heard words spoken in anger, joy, relief, or sadness. The discovery, reported online on May 14th in Current Biology is the first to show that emotional information is represented by distinct spatial signatures in the brain that can be generalized across speakers.

"Correct interpretation of emotion in the voice is highly important – especially in a modern environment where visual emotional signals are often not available," for instance, when people talk on the phone, said Thomas Ethofer of the University of Geneva, Switzerland. "We demonstrated that the spatial pattern of activity within the brain area that processes human voices contains information about the expressed emotion."

Previous neuroimaging studies showed that voice-sensitive auditory areas activate to a broad spectrum of vocally expressed emotions more than to neutral speech melody, the researchers explained. However, this enhanced response occurs irrespective of the specific category of emotion, making it impossible to distinguish different vocal emotions with conventional analyses.

In the new study, the researchers presented people with pseudowords spoken in five ways – with anger, sadness, relief, joy, or no emotion – while their brains were scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). They then analyzed the overall spatial pattern of activity in the auditory cortex by using a method called multivariate pattern analysis.

"While conventional methods analyze each point in the brain separately, we looked at the overall pattern," Ethofer explained. "Consider the following analogy: If you have a puzzle consisting of black and white pieces, it is hard to say whether they belong to a picture of a zebra or a checkerboard if you look at each piece in isolation, but it becomes relatively easy if you put the pieces together."

Indeed, their analysis showed that they could classify each emotion against all other alternatives.

The findings have not only yielded new insight into this most critical of social skills, but they might also help researchers unravel where it goes wrong in those with various psychiatric disorders, Ethofer said.

"Comprehension of emotional prosody is crucial for social functioning and compromised in various psychiatric disorders, including deficits for anger and sadness in schizophrenia, fear and surprise in bipolar affective disorder, and surprise in depression," the researchers wrote. "Future research might apply a similar approach as ours to clarify whether these deficits are paralleled by activity changes blurring emotions at the level of auditory cortex, or are due to disrupted patterns within frontal regions reflecting biased interpretation of emotional signals."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Can You See The Emotions I Hear? Brain Imaging Study Says Yes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090514125141.htm>.
Cell Press. (2009, May 15). Can You See The Emotions I Hear? Brain Imaging Study Says Yes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090514125141.htm
Cell Press. "Can You See The Emotions I Hear? Brain Imaging Study Says Yes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090514125141.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins