Suppressing sensorimotor activity modulates the discrimination of auditory emotions but not speaker identity
Banissy, M., Sauter, D., Ward, J., Warren, J. E., Walsh, V., & Scott, S. K.
Suppressing sensorimotor activity modulates the discrimination of auditory emotions but not speaker identity. Journal of Neuroscience, 30
(41), 13552-13557. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0786-10.2010.
Our ability to recognise the emotions of others is a crucial feature of human social cognition. Functional neuroimaging studies indicate that activity in sensorimotor cortices is evoked during the perception of emotion. In the visual domain, right somatosensory cortex activity has been shown to be critical for facial emotion recognition. However, the importance of sensorimotor representations in modalities outside of vision remains unknown. Here we use continuous theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation (cTBS) to investigate whether neural activity in the right postcentral gyrus (rPoG) and right lateral premotor cortex (rPM) is involved in non-verbal auditory emotion recognition. Three groups of participants completed same-different tasks on auditory stimuli, discriminating between either the emotion expressed or the speakers' identities, prior to and following cTBS targeted at rPoG, rPM or the vertex (control site). A task-selective deficit in auditory emotion discrimination was observed. Stimulation to rPoG and rPM resulted in a disruption of participants' abilities to discriminate emotion, but not identity, from vocal signals. These findings suggest that sensorimotor activity may be a modality independent mechanism which aids emotion discrimination.