Brain 'talks over' boring quotes: Top-down activation of voice-selective areas while listening to monotonous direct speech quotations

Bo Yao, Pascal Belin, Christoph Scheepers

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    Abstract

    In human communication, direct speech (e.g., Mary said, "I'm hungry") is perceived as more vivid than indirect speech (e.g., Mary said that she was hungry). This vividness distinction has previously been found to underlie silent reading of quotations: Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we found that direct speech elicited higher brain activity in the temporal voice areas (TVA) of the auditory cortex than indirect speech, consistent with an "inner voice" experience in reading direct speech. Here we show that listening to monotonously spoken direct versus indirect speech quotations also engenders differential TVA activity. This suggests that individuals engage in top-down simulations or imagery of enriched supra-segmental acoustic representations while listening to monotonous direct speech. The findings shed new light on the acoustic nature of the "inner voice" in understanding direct speech. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1832-1842
    Number of pages10
    JournalNeuroImage
    Volume60
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2012

    Keywords

    • Direct speech
    • Emotional prosody
    • FMRI
    • Indirect speech
    • Language comprehension
    • Mental simulation
    • Speech perception

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