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Temporal voice areas exist in autism spectrum disorder but are dysfunctional for voice identity recognition

MPS-Authors
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Schelinski,  Stefanie
Max Planck Research Group Neural Mechanisms of Human Communication, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Borowiak,  Kamila
Max Planck Research Group Neural Mechanisms of Human Communication, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany;

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von Kriegstein,  Katharina
Max Planck Research Group Neural Mechanisms of Human Communication, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Department of Psychology, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany;

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Schelnski_Borowiak_2016.pdf
(Publisher version), 451KB

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Citation

Schelinski, S., Borowiak, K., & von Kriegstein, K. (2016). Temporal voice areas exist in autism spectrum disorder but are dysfunctional for voice identity recognition. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 11(11), 1812-1822. doi:10.1093/scan/nsw089.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002A-EDC8-8
Abstract
The ability to recognise the identity of others is a key requirement for successful communication. Brain regions that respond selectively to voices exist in humans from early infancy on. Currently, it is unclear whether dysfunction of these voice-sensitive regions can explain voice identity recognition impairments. Here, we used two independent functional magnetic resonance imaging studies to investigate voice processing in a population that has been reported to have no voice-sensitive regions: autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Our results refute the earlier report that individuals with ASD have no responses in voice-sensitive regions: Passive listening to vocal, compared to non-vocal, sounds elicited typical responses in voice-sensitive regions in the high-functioning ASD group and controls. In contrast, the ASD group had a dysfunction in voice-sensitive regions during voice identity but not speech recognition in the right posterior superior temporal sulcus/gyrus (STS/STG)—a region implicated in processing complex spectrotemporal voice features and unfamiliar voices. The right anterior STS/STG correlated with voice identity recognition performance in controls but not in the ASD group. The findings suggest that right STS/STG dysfunction is critical for explaining voice recognition impairments in high-functioning ASD and show that ASD is not characterised by a general lack of voice-sensitive responses.