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J Neurosci. 2017 Sep 20;37(38):9249-9258. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3363-16.2017. Epub 2017 Aug 23.

Impaired Feedforward Control and Enhanced Feedback Control of Speech in Patients with Cerebellar Degeneration.

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Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware 19716,
Department of Psychology, University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720, and.
Departments of Otolaryngology and.
Radiology, University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143.


The cerebellum has been hypothesized to form a crucial part of the speech motor control network. Evidence for this comes from patients with cerebellar damage, who exhibit a variety of speech deficits, as well as imaging studies showing cerebellar activation during speech production in healthy individuals. To date, the precise role of the cerebellum in speech motor control remains unclear, as it has been implicated in both anticipatory (feedforward) and reactive (feedback) control. Here, we assess both anticipatory and reactive aspects of speech motor control, comparing the performance of patients with cerebellar degeneration and matched controls. Experiment 1 tested feedforward control by examining speech adaptation across trials in response to a consistent perturbation of auditory feedback. Experiment 2 tested feedback control, examining online corrections in response to inconsistent perturbations of auditory feedback. Both male and female patients and controls were tested. The patients were impaired in adapting their feedforward control system relative to controls, exhibiting an attenuated anticipatory response to the perturbation. In contrast, the patients produced even larger compensatory responses than controls, suggesting an increased reliance on sensory feedback to guide speech articulation in this population. Together, these results suggest that the cerebellum is crucial for maintaining accurate feedforward control of speech, but relatively uninvolved in feedback control.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Speech motor control is a complex activity that is thought to rely on both predictive, feedforward control as well as reactive, feedback control. While the cerebellum has been shown to be part of the speech motor control network, its functional contribution to feedback and feedforward control remains controversial. Here, we use real-time auditory perturbations of speech to show that patients with cerebellar degeneration are impaired in adapting feedforward control of speech but retain the ability to make online feedback corrections; indeed, the patients show an increased sensitivity to feedback. These results indicate that the cerebellum forms a crucial part of the feedforward control system for speech but is not essential for online, feedback control.


ataxic dysarthria; cerebellum; feedback control; feedforward control; speech; speech motor control

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