FMRI-based identity classification accuracy in left temporal and frontal regions predicts speaker recognition performance

Virginia Aglieri, Bastien Cagna, Lionel Velly, Sylvain Takerkart, Pascal Belin


Speaker recognition is characterized by considerable inter-individual variability with poorly understood neural bases. This study was aimed at (1) clarifying the cerebral correlates of speaker recognition in humans, in particular the involvement of prefrontal areas, using multi voxel pattern analysis (MVPA) applied to fMRI data from a relatively large group of participants, and (2) at investigating the relationship across participants between fMRI-based classification and the group’s variable behavioural performance at the speaker recognition task. A cohort of subjects (N = 40, 28 females) selected to present a wide distribution of voice recognition abilities underwent an fMRI speaker identification task during which they were asked to recognize three previously learned speakers with finger button presses. The results showed that speaker identity could be significantly decoded based on fMRI patterns in voice-sensitive regions including bilateral temporal voice areas (TVAs) along the superior temporal sulcus/gyrus but also in bilateral parietal and left inferior frontal regions. Furthermore, fMRI-based classification accuracy showed a significant correlation with individual behavioural performance in left anterior STG/STS and left inferior frontal gyrus. These results highlight the role of both temporal and extra-temporal regions in performing a speaker identity recognition task with motor responses.

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