How brain controls accents and impersonations

Washington, June 19 (ANI): The brain regions and interactions involved in impersonations and accents have been identified.

Using an fMRI scanner, the team led by Royal Holloway University researcher Carolyn McGettigan, asked participants, all non-professional impressionists, to repeatedly recite the opening lines of a familiar nursery rhyme either with their normal voice, by impersonating individuals, or by impersonating regional and foreign accents of English.

They found that when a voice is deliberately changed, it brings the left anterior insula and inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) of the brain into play.

The researchers also discovered that when comparing impersonations against accents, areas in the posterior superior temporal/inferior parietal cortex and in the right middle/anterior superior temporal sulcus showed greater responses.

"The voice is a powerful channel for the expression of our identity - it conveys information such as gender, age and place of birth, but crucially, it also expresses who we want to be," said lead author Carolyn McGettigan from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway University.

While past work has found that listening to voices activates regions of the temporal lobe of the brain, no research had explored the brain regions involved in controlling vocal identity before this study.

Carolyn asserted that their aim is to find out more about how the brain controls this very flexible communicative tool, which could potentially lead to new treatments for those looking to recover their own vocal identity following brain injury or a stroke. (ANI)

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