DS0407 -

Comparative Studies of Cerebral Voice Processing in Primates – PRIMAVOICE

Submission summary

This project aims to investigate the neuronal mechanisms of voice information processing in the primate auditory cortex using a comparative approach. The recent discovery of « voice areas » in the auditory cortex of both humans and macaques offers an exciting research avenue into the cerebral mechanisms of high-level auditory cognition in primates. We aim to precise the anatomical localization of these voice patches across species and investigate their functional properties in the coding of a type of voice information of equal relevance for both species: speaker identity and its invariance across utterances.

We will use functional magnetic resonance imaging in both humans and macaques to measure their brain activity using the same scanner and the same auditory stimulation protocol including human voices and macaque vocalizations. We will use multivariate statistics to localize « voice patches» of cortex in both species, allowing a comparison of their location relative to anatomical landmarks and possible homologies across species. We will then probe their response properties using a stimulus dataset with systematic variation in speaker identity in order to investigate speaker identity representations and their invariance.

We will then implant high-density multi-electrode arrays in the different fMRI-localized voice patches to record in parallel electrophysiological signals during auditory stimulation, in order to investigate the fine-grained dynamics of single-neuron spiking and LFP activities within and across patches. We will seize the unique opportunity of recording in parallel in the multiple patches during voice processing, which has never been done, to investigate the transfer of voice information and the causal interactions between different voice patches.

This project is coordinated by PI Pascal BELIN, Professor in Neuroscience at Aix-Marseille University (AMU) who gained international level expertise in human voice cognition studied by neuroimaging. The project will be performed at the Institut des Neurosciences de La Timone (INT), UMR 7289 CNRS & AMU. It builds on the excellent complementary expertise of co-I Thomas BROCHIER with monkey training and electrophysiological recording and analysis with high-density electrode arrays. It also relies on several collaborators with relevant specific expertise as well as on access to high-quality platforms for fMRI imaging and macaque husbandry within INT.

This project will have direct short-term scientific impact by providing novel, high-quality information on the neural coding of voice information in human and non-human primates. Its results will provide a window onto the evolution of the vocal brain, crucial novel data on the spatio-temporal dynamics of the coding of voice and speaker information by neuronal assemblies that is likely to considerably advance our understanding ion this domain. Beyond science, in the longer term this type of research can potentially lead to improvements in diagnosis and treatment of communicative disorders such as found in autism spectrum disorders or associated with normal ageing, and in better algorithms for hearing aids and cochlear implants and in more socially-clever listening machines—potentially affecting the life of millions. It is thus well suited to objectives of Axe 7 “Exploration du système nerveux dans son fonctionnement normal et pathologique” in Défi 4.

Project coordination

Pascal BELIN (Institut de Neurosciences de la Timone_Aix-Marseille Université)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

LPC Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive
Maastricht University
Newcastle University Medical School
INT_AMU Institut de Neurosciences de la Timone_Aix-Marseille Université

Help of the ANR 468,082 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: September 2016 - 48 Months

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