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J Neurosci. 2012 Jul 4;32(27):9351-8. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0404-12.2012.

Sensory preference in speech production revealed by simultaneous alteration of auditory and somatosensory feedback.

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Department of Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec H3A 1B1, Canada.


The idea that humans learn and maintain accurate speech by carefully monitoring auditory feedback is widely held. But this view neglects the fact that auditory feedback is highly correlated with somatosensory feedback during speech production. Somatosensory feedback from speech movements could be a primary means by which cortical speech areas monitor the accuracy of produced speech. We tested this idea by placing the somatosensory and auditory systems in competition during speech motor learning. To do this, we combined two speech-learning paradigms to simultaneously alter somatosensory and auditory feedback in real time as subjects spoke. Somatosensory feedback was manipulated by using a robotic device that altered the motion path of the jaw. Auditory feedback was manipulated by changing the frequency of the first formant of the vowel sound and playing back the modified utterance to the subject through headphones. The amount of compensation for each perturbation was used as a measure of sensory reliance. All subjects were observed to correct for at least one of the perturbations, but auditory feedback was not dominant. Indeed, some subjects showed a stable preference for either somatosensory or auditory feedback during speech.

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