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J Acoust Soc Am. 2009 Aug;126(2):837-46. doi: 10.1121/1.3158600.

The sensitivity of auditory-motor representations to subtle changes in auditory feedback while singing.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.


Singing requires accurate control of the fundamental frequency (F0) of the voice. This study examined trained singers' and untrained singers' (nonsingers') sensitivity to subtle manipulations in auditory feedback and the subsequent effect on the mapping between F0 feedback and vocal control. Participants produced the consonant-vowel /ta/ while receiving auditory feedback that was shifted up and down in frequency. Results showed that singers and nonsingers compensated to a similar degree when presented with frequency-altered feedback (FAF); however, singers' F0 values were consistently closer to the intended pitch target. Moreover, singers initiated their compensatory responses when auditory feedback was shifted up or down 6 cents or more, compared to nonsingers who began compensating when feedback was shifted up 26 cents and down 22 cents. Additionally, examination of the first 50 ms of vocalization indicated that participants commenced subsequent vocal utterances, during FAF, near the F0 value on previous shift trials. Interestingly, nonsingers commenced F0 productions below the pitch target and increased their F0 until they matched the note. Thus, singers and nonsingers rely on an internal model to regulate voice F0, but singers' models appear to be more sensitive in response to subtle discrepancies in auditory feedback.

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