In the adult brain, speech can recruit a brain network that is overlapping with, but not identical to, that involved in perceiving non-linguistic vocalizations. Using the same stimuli that had been presented to human 4-month-olds and adults, as well as adult macaques, we sought to shed light on the cortical networks engaged when human newborns process diverse vocalization types. Near infrared spectroscopy was used to register the response of 40 newborns' perisylvian regions when stimulated with speech, human and macaque emotional vocalizations, as well as auditory controls where the formant structure was destroyed but the long-term spectrum was retained. Left fronto-temporal and parietal regions were significantly activated in the comparison of stimulation versus rest, with unclear selectivity in cortical activation. These results for the newborn brain are qualitatively and quantitatively compared with previous work on newborns, older human infants, adult humans, and adult macaques reported in previous work.
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