2016-06-30Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/19092
Temporal voice areas exist in autism spectrum disorder but are dysfunctional for voice identity recognition
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 voicesensitive 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.
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