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PLoS One. 2013 Aug 12;8(8):e70648. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070648. eCollection 2013.

Involvement of right STS in audio-visual integration for affective speech demonstrated using MEG.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of York, Heslington, York, UK.


Speech and emotion perception are dynamic processes in which it may be optimal to integrate synchronous signals emitted from different sources. Studies of audio-visual (AV) perception of neutrally expressed speech demonstrate supra-additive (i.e., where AV>[unimodal auditory+unimodal visual]) responses in left STS to crossmodal speech stimuli. However, emotions are often conveyed simultaneously with speech; through the voice in the form of speech prosody and through the face in the form of facial expression. Previous studies of AV nonverbal emotion integration showed a role for right (rather than left) STS. The current study therefore examined whether the integration of facial and prosodic signals of emotional speech is associated with supra-additive responses in left (cf. results for speech integration) or right (due to emotional content) STS. As emotional displays are sometimes difficult to interpret, we also examined whether supra-additive responses were affected by emotional incongruence (i.e., ambiguity). Using magnetoencephalography, we continuously recorded eighteen participants as they viewed and heard AV congruent emotional and AV incongruent emotional speech stimuli. Significant supra-additive responses were observed in right STS within the first 250 ms for emotionally incongruent and emotionally congruent AV speech stimuli, which further underscores the role of right STS in processing crossmodal emotive signals.

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