“Hearing Voices”: Neurocognition of the Human Voice

Pascal Belin

in The Oxford Handbook of Social Neuroscience

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780195342161
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

“Hearing Voices”: Neurocognition of the Human Voice

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Social Psychology



This chapter examines the neurocognitive bases for voice cognition, focusing on two main questions: Are voices special? That is, how are human voices detected and do they selectively engage neural mechanisms not engaged by nonvocal sounds? And, how is identity information contained in voice—gender and unique identity—processed by the brain? Before addressing these two issues, a brief overview of how voices are produced and their acoustical properties is provided. Evidence suggests that normal human listeners are equipped with sophisticated neural machinery for processing voices and extracting the rich information they contain. Comparable neuronal networks are present in the macaque brain suggesting a long evolutionary history of cerebral voice processing.

Keywords: voice; speech; paralinguistic; identity; affect; fMRI; ERPs; auditory cortex; superior temporal sulcus

Article.  9384 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience ; Social Psychology

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