When we're angry, how we say something may be as important as what we say. The sound of anger enhances the brain's response to voices, according to a study to appear in the February issue of Nature Neuroscience.
Didier Grandjean and colleagues collected brain scans from people while they listened to angry or neutral meaningless speech sounds. When compared to neutral speech, angry voices increased activity in the superior temporal sulcus, a brain region involved in voice recognition. Enhanced responses occurred even when subjects were told to ignore an angry voice played to one ear and listen to a neutral voice played to the other.
These results suggest that our brains may involuntarily detect important social and emotional signals in voices, whether or not we pay attention to them or know what they say.
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