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Processing of vocalizations in humans and monkeys: A comparative fMRI study

Abstract : Humans and many other animals use acoustical signals to mediate social interactions with conspecifics. The evolution of sound-based communication is still poorly understood and its neural correlates have only recently begun to be investigated. In the present study, we applied functional MRI to humans and macaque monkeys listening to identical stimuli in order to compare the cortical networks involved in the processing of vocalizations. At the first stages of auditory processing, both species showed similar fMRI activity maps within and around the lateral sulcus (the Sylvian fissure in humans). Monkeys showed remarkably similar responses to monkey calls and to human vocal sounds (speech or otherwise), mainly in the lateral sulcus and the adjacent superior temporal gyrus (STG). In contrast, a preference for human vocalizations and especially for speech was observed in the human STG and superior temporal sulcus (STS). The STS and Broca's region were especially responsive to intelligible utterances. The evolution of the language faculty in humans appears to have recruited most of the STS. It may be that in monkeys, a much simpler repertoire of vocaliza-tions requires less involvement of this temporal territory.
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Olivier Joly, Christophe Pallier, Franck Ramus, Daniel Pressnitzer, Wim Vanduffel, et al.. Processing of vocalizations in humans and monkeys: A comparative fMRI study. NeuroImage, Elsevier, 2012, 62 (3), pp.1376-1389. ⟨10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.05.070⟩. ⟨hal-02327524⟩

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