Accurate perception of fundamental frequency (F0) contour changes in the human voice is important for understanding a speaker's intonation, and consequently also his/her attitude. In this study, we investigated the neural processes involved in the perception of F0 contour changes in the Japanese one-syllable interjection "ne" in 21 native-Japanese listeners. A passive oddball paradigm was applied in which "ne" with a high falling F0 contour, used when urging a reaction from the listener, was randomly presented as a rare deviant among a frequent "ne" syllable with a flat F0 contour (i.e., meaningless intonation). We applied an adaptive spatial filtering method to the neuromagnetic time course recorded by whole-head magnetoencephalography (MEG) and estimated the spatiotemporal frequency dynamics of event-related cerebral oscillatory changes in the oddball paradigm. Our results demonstrated a significant elevation of beta band event-related desynchronization (ERD) in the right temporal and frontal areas, in time windows from 100 to 300 and from 300 to 500. ms after the onset of deviant stimuli (high falling F0 contour). This is the first study to reveal detailed spatiotemporal frequency characteristics of cerebral oscillations during the perception of intonational (not lexical) F0 contour changes in the human voice. The results further confirmed that the right hemisphere is associated with perception of intonational F0 contour information in the human voice, especially in early time windows.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes