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Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Jun 3;7:237. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00237. eCollection 2013.

The neural control of singing.

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Department of Psychology, New York University New York, NY, USA.


Singing provides a unique opportunity to examine music performance-the musical instrument is contained wholly within the body, thus eliminating the need for creating artificial instruments or tasks in neuroimaging experiments. Here, more than two decades of voice and singing research will be reviewed to give an overview of the sensory-motor control of the singing voice, starting from the vocal tract and leading up to the brain regions involved in singing. Additionally, to demonstrate how sensory feedback is integrated with vocal motor control, recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) research on somatosensory and auditory feedback processing during singing will be presented. The relationship between the brain and singing behavior will be explored also by examining: (1) neuroplasticity as a function of various lengths and types of training, (2) vocal amusia due to a compromised singing network, and (3) singing performance in individuals with congenital amusia. Finally, the auditory-motor control network for singing will be considered alongside dual-stream models of auditory processing in music and speech to refine both these theoretical models and the singing network itself.


audio-vocal integration; auditory processing; dual-stream model; non-musicians; singers; somatosensory; vocal pitch

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