Superior Temporal Sulcus

Last update: September 18, 2022
By BrainMatters


This area is involved in processing voices. This involves recognizing voices, but also detecting emotions in voices. BA 22 is additionally also involved in recognizing and processing the sound of different musical instruments.


This brain region is involved in processing voice sounds. When you hear a voice for the first time there is a lot of activity here. However, when you have heard a voice many times, the area becomes less and less active. This is because a representation of the voice is then stored. This area is therefore also called voice region or temporal voice area.

The area also responds to different emotions that can be heard in the voice. When there is an angry, sad, or happy tone in the voice, the area becomes more active, than when the same voice speaks in a neutral manner.


BA 22 is located in the superior temporal gyrus of the brain. The posterior part of BA 22 is Wernicke's area, which is important for understanding spoken language.


This region in the left hemisphere of the brain has a different function than the same region in the right hemisphere. In the left hemisphere, the region is involved in understanding and producing single words. In the right hemisphere of the brain, it is involved in distinguishing between melody, pitch and intensity of sounds.


People who suffer from phonagnosia can no longer recognize voices or they can no longer distinguish between two voices. These patients can, however, recognize emotion in a voice, and associate it with a particular facial expression. Recent studies have shown that these people may also have difficulty recognizing sounds of familiar instruments. For example, they cannot distinguish the sound of a flute from the sound of an oboe.

Author: Myrthe Princen (translated by Melanie Smekal)

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