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Title: Listen up! Processing of intensity change differs for vocal and nonvocal sounds
Authors: Schirmer, A. 
Escoffier, N. 
Simpson, E.
Keywords: Attention
Issue Date: 2007
Citation: Schirmer, A., Escoffier, N., Simpson, E. (2007). Listen up! Processing of intensity change differs for vocal and nonvocal sounds. Brain Research 1176 (1) : 103-112. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Changes in the intensity of both vocal and nonvocal sounds can be emotionally relevant. However, as only vocal sounds directly reflect communicative intent, intensity change of vocal but not nonvocal sounds is socially relevant. Here we investigated whether a change in sound intensity is processed differently depending on its social relevance. To this end, participants listened passively to a sequence of vocal or nonvocal sounds that contained rare deviants which differed from standards in sound intensity. Concurrently recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) revealed a mismatch negativity (MMN) and P300 effect for intensity change. Direction of intensity change was of little importance for vocal stimulus sequences, which recruited enhanced sensory and attentional resources for both loud and soft deviants. In contrast, intensity change in nonvocal sequences recruited more sensory and attentional resources for loud as compared to soft deviants. This was reflected in markedly larger MMN/P300 amplitudes and shorter P300 latencies for the loud as compared to soft nonvocal deviants. Furthermore, while the processing pattern observed for nonvocal sounds was largely comparable between men and women, sex differences for vocal sounds suggest that women were more sensitive to their social relevance. These findings extend previous evidence of sex differences in vocal processing and add to reports of voice specific processing mechanisms by demonstrating that simple acoustic change recruits more processing resources if it is socially relevant. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Source Title: Brain Research
ISSN: 00068993
DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2007.08.008
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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