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  The face in your voice - How audiovisual learning benefits vocal communication

Schall, S. (2014). The face in your voice - How audiovisual learning benefits vocal communication. PhD Thesis, Humboldt University, Berlin.

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schall_diss.pdf (Publisher version), 547KB
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Face and voice of a person are strongly associated with each other and usually perceived as a single entity. Despite the natural co-occurrence of faces and voices, brain research has traditionally approached their perception from a unisensory perspective. This means that research into face perception has exclusively focused on the visual system, while research into voice perception has exclusively probed the auditory system. In this thesis, I suggest that the brain has adapted to the multisensory nature of faces and voices and that this adaptation is evident even when one input stream is missing, that is, when input is actually unisensory. Specifically, the current work investigates how the brain exploits previously learned voice-face associations to optimize the auditory processing of voices and vocal speech. Three empirical studies providing spatiotemporal brain data—via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG)—constitute this thesis. All data were acquired while participants listened to auditory-only speech samples of previously familiarized speakers (with or without seeing the speakers’ faces). Three key findings demonstrate that previously learned visual speaker information support the auditory analysis of vocal sounds: (i) face-sensitive areas were part of the sensory network activated by voices, (ii) the auditory analysis of voices was temporally facilitated by learned facial associations and (iii) multisensory interactions between face- and voice/speech- sensitive regions were increased. The current work challenges traditional unisensory views on vocal perception and rather suggests that voice and vocal speech perception profit from a multisensory neural processing scheme.
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 Creators:
Schall, Sonja1, Author              
von Kriegstein, Katharina1, Advisor              
Affiliations:
1Max Planck Research Group Neural Mechanisms of Human Communication, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_634556              

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 Dates: 2013-09-2720132014-08-26
 Publication Status: Published in print
 Pages: -
 Publishing info: Berlin : Humboldt University
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 Degree: PhD

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