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J Neurosci. 2014 Feb 12;34(7):2524-37. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2805-13.2014.

Auditory and visual modulation of temporal lobe neurons in voice-sensitive and association cortices.

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Department of Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, 72076 Tübingen, Germany, Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QB, United Kingdom, Division of Imaging Science and Biomedical Engineering, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PT, United Kingdom, and Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University Medical School, Henry Wellcome Building, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4HH, United Kingdom.


Effective interactions between conspecific individuals can depend upon the receiver forming a coherent multisensory representation of communication signals, such as merging voice and face content. Neuroimaging studies have identified face- or voice-sensitive areas (Belin et al., 2000; Petkov et al., 2008; Tsao et al., 2008), some of which have been proposed as candidate regions for face and voice integration (von Kriegstein et al., 2005). However, it was unclear how multisensory influences occur at the neuronal level within voice- or face-sensitive regions, especially compared with classically defined multisensory regions in temporal association cortex (Stein and Stanford, 2008). Here, we characterize auditory (voice) and visual (face) influences on neuronal responses in a right-hemisphere voice-sensitive region in the anterior supratemporal plane (STP) of Rhesus macaques. These results were compared with those in the neighboring superior temporal sulcus (STS). Within the STP, our results show auditory sensitivity to several vocal features, which was not evident in STS units. We also newly identify a functionally distinct neuronal subpopulation in the STP that appears to carry the area's sensitivity to voice identity related features. Audiovisual interactions were prominent in both the STP and STS. However, visual influences modulated the responses of STS neurons with greater specificity and were more often associated with congruent voice-face stimulus pairings than STP neurons. Together, the results reveal the neuronal processes subserving voice-sensitive fMRI activity patterns in primates, generate hypotheses for testing in the visual modality, and clarify the position of voice-sensitive areas within the unisensory and multisensory processing hierarchies.


audiovisual; congruency; face; multisensory; primate; voice

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