Neurophysiological Correlates in the Comprehension of Emotional Prosody: An ƒMRI study

 

 

Kelly Davis Garrett,+* Phyllis Koenig,* Peachie Moore,* Christian Devita,*
John Listerud,# Mark Liberman^ & Murray Grossman*^

 

+Neuropsychology, Drexel University

*Cognitive Neurology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

^Institute for Research on Cognitive Science

#Psychiatry, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

 

 

ABSTRACT

We examined the neurophysiological basis for prosody in 12 healthy, college-aged adults with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at 4T. Stimuli included brief (<1500ms) audio recordings of professional actors rendering utterances of minimal semantic content (i.e., dates, numbers) using a variety of emotional and non-emotional attitudes (Davis Garrett et al., 2002). Participants judged aural stimuli blocked by emotional &emdash;v-s non-emotional features over 3 tasks presented in pseudo-random fashion: 1) Is the emotion expressed tentative, neutral, or dominant?; 2) Is the distance between the speaker and intended listener very close, at a conversational distance, or far away?; and 3) a category-neutral condition requiring less cognitive effort (Is this something you might hear at a bus stop?). For the emotional minus distance contrast, significant activation emerged in the left orbital frontal area (Broadmann Area 47; peak coordinate x=-52, y=16, z=-4; z-score = 4.25) and left dorsal inferior frontal area (Broadmann Areas 44/46; peak coordinate x=-44, y=20, z=24; z-score = 3.51). For the distance minus emotion contrast, significant activation emerged in the left inferior temporal area (Broadmann Area 36; peak coordinate x=-28, y=-36, z=-24; z-score = 3.75) and the left cingulate (Broadmann Area 25; peak coordinate x=-16, y=4, z=-8; z-score = 3.66). Emotional prosody appears to be supported by a neural network including orbital frontal cortex for interpreting emotional stimuli and dorsal inferior frontal cortex to support the complex, multi-factorial properties of prosodic stimuli.

Garrett, K.D., Koenig, P., Moore, P., Devita, C., Listerud, J., Liberman, M. & Grossman, M. (February, 2002). Neurophysiological correlates in the comprehension of emotional prosody: An ƒMRI study. Journal of the International Neuropsychology Society, 8(2), 139.


 

Background

 

Methods

Participants

Ten right-handed participants were recruited from Universities in Philadelphia, PA. They indicated that they had no history of neurologic, psychiatric, or learning disorders.

Demographic information for participants:

Mean
Standard Deviation
Age
20.3
2.5
Education
14.3
1.7
% Male
44

 

Materials & Procedure

Audio recordings of 4 professional actors (2 males, 2 females) were used for stimuli. Participants listened to semantically neutral, 4-syllable (<1500ms) gain-equalized utterances (dates and numbers) and were asked to make judgments for 3 tasks:

 

 

Results

 

Emotion minus Distance Contrast

left orbital frontal area

Broadmann Area 47;
peak coordinate x=-52, y=16, z=-4
z-score = 4.03

left dorsal inferior frontal area

Broadmann Areas 44/46;
peak coordinate x=-44, y=20, z=24
z-score = 3.57


Distance minus Emotion Contrast

left inferior temporal area

Broadmann Area 36;
peak coordinate x=-28, y=-36, z=-24
z-score = 3.75

left cingulate

Broadmann Area 25;
peak coordinate x=-16, y=4, z=-8
z-score = 3.66

 

Conclusions


Originally presented at the International Neuropsychology Society Meeting, February 2002, Toronto, ON, CANADA.