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Neuroreport. 2001 Aug 28;12(12):2653-7.

Processing specificity for human voice stimuli: electrophysiological evidence.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91905, Israel.


Recent neuroimaging studies have provided evidence for localized perceptual specificity in the processing of human voice stimuli, paralleling the specificity for human faces. This study attempted to delineate the perceptual features of human voices yielding selective processing, and to characterize its time-course. Electrophysiological recordings revealed a positive potential peaking at 320 ms post-stimulus onset, in response to sung tones compared with fundamental-frequency-matched instrumental tones, when both categories were distracters in an oddball task. This voice-specific response (VSR) evoked under conditions different from those yielding positivity at that latency in other contexts, indicates the overriding salience of voice stimuli, possibly reflecting the operation of a gating system directing voice stimuli to be processed differently from other acoustic stimuli.

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