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PLoS One. 2013;8(4):e60783. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0060783. Epub 2013 Apr 8.

Sensory-motor interactions for vocal pitch monitoring in non-primary human auditory cortex.

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Human Brain Research Lab, Department of Neurosurgery, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.


The neural mechanisms underlying processing of auditory feedback during self-vocalization are poorly understood. One technique used to study the role of auditory feedback involves shifting the pitch of the feedback that a speaker receives, known as pitch-shifted feedback. We utilized a pitch shift self-vocalization and playback paradigm to investigate the underlying neural mechanisms of audio-vocal interaction. High-resolution electrocorticography (ECoG) signals were recorded directly from auditory cortex of 10 human subjects while they vocalized and received brief downward (-100 cents) pitch perturbations in their voice auditory feedback (speaking task). ECoG was also recorded when subjects passively listened to playback of their own pitch-shifted vocalizations. Feedback pitch perturbations elicited average evoked potential (AEP) and event-related band power (ERBP) responses, primarily in the high gamma (70-150 Hz) range, in focal areas of non-primary auditory cortex on superior temporal gyrus (STG). The AEPs and high gamma responses were both modulated by speaking compared with playback in a subset of STG contacts. From these contacts, a majority showed significant enhancement of high gamma power and AEP responses during speaking while the remaining contacts showed attenuated response amplitudes. The speaking-induced enhancement effect suggests that engaging the vocal motor system can modulate auditory cortical processing of self-produced sounds in such a way as to increase neural sensitivity for feedback pitch error detection. It is likely that mechanisms such as efference copies may be involved in this process, and modulation of AEP and high gamma responses imply that such modulatory effects may affect different cortical generators within distinctive functional networks that drive voice production and control.

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