Cortical representations of communication sounds.

Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, School of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143-0732, USA.
Current opinion in otolaryngology & head and neck surgery (Impact Factor: 1.39). 11/2008; 16(5):478-84. DOI: 10.1097/MOO.0b013e32830e6dac
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This review summarizes recent research into cortical processing of vocalizations in animals and humans. There has been a resurgent interest in this topic accompanied by an increased number of studies using animal models with complex vocalizations and new methods in human brain imaging. Recent results from such studies are discussed.
Experiments have begun to reveal the bilateral cortical fields involved in communication sound processing and the transformations of neural representations that occur among those fields. Advances have also been made in understanding the neuronal basis of interaction between developmental exposures and behavioral experiences with vocalization perception. Exposure to sounds during the developmental period produces large effects on brain responses, as do a variety of specific trained tasks in adults. Studies have also uncovered a neural link between the motor production of vocalizations and the representation of vocalizations in cortex.
Parallel experiments in humans and animals are answering important questions about vocalization processing in the central nervous system. This dual approach promises to reveal microscopic, mesoscopic, and macroscopic principles of large-scale dynamic interactions between brain regions that underlie the complex phenomenon of vocalization perception. Such advances will yield a greater understanding of the causes, consequences, and treatment of disorders related to speech processing.

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