Thursday, July 14, 2005

Voices in my head....

Those clever people at the University of Sheffield have recently
pubilished a paper in NeuroImage [1] to try and explain why auditory
verbal hallucinations, or voices in the head experienced commonly in
schizophrenia, are nearly always male.
Basically they played male, female and "gender ambiguous" voices to
male Sheffield uni students whist there brains were in a functional
magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine and looked how the brain
reacted to each stimulus.
The long and short of their finding is that the male student brain (and
I suppose by inference the male bran in general) process male and
female voices in distinct ways. The female voice activates regions of a
brain specialising in "hearing" human voices (the right anterior
superior temporal gyrus, near the superior temporal sulcus), rather
than the general "minds ear" that the male brain activates. (the
mesio-parietal precuneus area). So this may explain why female voices
are more engaging to listen to. I'll let you insert your own quip

Does this mean that we, humans, have evolved to pay more attention to
female voices? Or just that males have evolved to pay more attention to
female voices? I suppose they'd have to do a similar set of fMRIs on an
equivalent female group.

[1]Dilraj S. Sokhi, Michael D. Hunter, Iain D. Wilkinson and Peter W.R.
Woodruff, Male and female voices activate distinct regions in the male
brain, NeuroImage, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 22 June
2005, .

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