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The neural correlates of emotional prosody comprehension : disentangling simple from complex emotion.

Alba-Ferrara, L. and Hausmann, M. and Mitchel, R. L. and Weis, S. (2011) 'The neural correlates of emotional prosody comprehension : disentangling simple from complex emotion.', PLoS ONE., 6 (12). e28701.


Background Emotional prosody comprehension (EPC), the ability to interpret another person's feelings by listening to their tone of voice, is crucial for effective social communication. Previous studies assessing the neural correlates of EPC have found inconsistent results, particularly regarding the involvement of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). It remained unclear whether the involvement of the mPFC is linked to an increased demand in socio-cognitive components of EPC such as mental state attribution and if basic perceptual processing of EPC can be performed without the contribution of this region. Methods fMRI was used to delineate neural activity during the perception of prosodic stimuli conveying simple and complex emotion. Emotional trials in general, as compared to neutral ones, activated a network comprising temporal and lateral frontal brain regions, while complex emotion trials specifically showed an additional involvement of the mPFC, premotor cortex, frontal operculum and left insula. Conclusion These results indicate that the mPFC and premotor areas might be associated, but are not crucial to EPC. However, the mPFC supports socio-cognitive skills necessary to interpret complex emotion such as inferring mental states. Additionally, the premotor cortex involvement may reflect the participation of the mirror neuron system for prosody processing particularly of complex emotion.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:Copyright: © 2011 Alba-Ferrara et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:25 January 2012
Date of first online publication:December 2011
Date first made open access:No date available

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