Predicting vocal emotion expressions from the human brain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Authors:
  • Sonja A. Kotz
  • Christian Kalberlah
  • Jörg Bahlmann
  • Angela D. Friederici
  • John D. Haynes


Speech is an important carrier of emotional information. However, little is known about how different vocal emotion expressions are recognized in a receiver's brain. We used multivariate pattern analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging data to investigate to which degree distinct vocal emotion expressions are represented in the receiver's local brain activity patterns. Specific vocal emotion expressions are encoded in a right fronto-operculo-temporal network involving temporal regions known to subserve suprasegmental acoustic processes and a fronto-opercular region known to support emotional evaluation, and, moreover, in left temporo-cerebellar regions covering sequential processes. The right inferior frontal region, in particular, was found to differentiate distinct emotional expressions. The present analysis reveals vocal emotion to be encoded in a shared cortical network reflected by distinct brain activity patterns. These results shed new light on theoretical and empirical controversies about the perception of distinct vocal emotion expressions at the level of large-scale human brain signals. Hum Brain Mapp, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1971-1981
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013