Monday, March 13, 2006

I Can Tell By the Tone of Your Voice...

Or maybe not. Women and men are different (as a group) in their ability to distinguish emotions from tone of voice. From the Trends in Cognitive Science review below, women showed higher left inferior frontal gyrus activations when listening to words said in an emotionally incongruous tone of voice.

Excerpt:" and women differ in how automatically they access and integrate emotional-prosodic information into language processing. Evidence that women are better than men remembering the emotional tone of an utterance further suggests that these processing differences result in gender-specific memory representations of social interactions..."

If this is a "normal" gender difference between men and women, it's a good bet these normal differences also exist in boys and girls - in fact perhaps even more so because children are even social adept, and they may be poor categorizers of what they hear or see. Certainly more than one young socially awkward boy has been misdiagnosed has having Aspergers, PDD-NOS, or high functioning autism because of these normal gender differences.

These brain studies on normal populations give us the opportunity to understand normal individual difference on a complex level. As the fMRI scanners really get whirring, maybe the more surprising thing will be how well we all get along considering how differently perceive and remember.

Emotional Vocal Processing and fMRI

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