Journal of Neurophysiology

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Integration of auditory and somatosensory error signals in the neural control of speech movements

Yongqiang Feng, Vincent L. Gracco, Ludo Max


We investigated auditory and somatosensory feedback contributions to the neural control of speech. In Task I, sensorimotor adaptation was studied by perturbing one of these sensory modalities or both modalities simultaneously. The first formant frequency (F1) in the auditory feedback was shifted up by a real-time processor and/or the extent of jaw opening was increased or decreased with a force field applied by a robotic device. All eight subjects lowered F1 to compensate for the up-shifted F1 in the feedback signal regardless of whether or not the jaw was perturbed. Adaptive changes in subjects' acoustic output resulted from adjustments in articulatory movements of the jaw or tongue. Adaptation in jaw opening extent in response to the mechanical perturbation occurred only when no auditory feedback perturbation was applied or when the direction of adaptation to the force was compatible with the direction of adaptation to a simultaneous acoustic perturbation. In Tasks II and III, subjects' auditory and somatosensory precision and accuracy were estimated. Correlation analyses showed that the relationships (a) between F1 adaptation extent and auditory acuity for F1 and (b) between jaw position adaptation extent and somatosensory acuity for jaw position were weak and statistically not significant. Taken together, the combined findings from this work suggest that, in speech production, sensorimotor adaptation updates the underlying control mechanisms in such a way that the planning of vowel-related articulatory movements takes into account a complex integration of error signals from previous trials but likely with a dominant role for the auditory modality.

  • sensorimotor integration
  • adaptation
  • speech
  • auditory feedback
  • somatosensory feedback