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Error-dependent modulation of speech-induced auditory suppression for pitch-shifted voice feedback

Roozbeh Behroozmand* and Charles R Larson

Author affiliations

Speech Physiology Laboratory, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Northwestern University, 2240 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2011, 12:54  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-12-54

Published: 6 June 2011



The motor-driven predictions about expected sensory feedback (efference copies) have been proposed to play an important role in recognition of sensory consequences of self-produced motor actions. In the auditory system, this effect was suggested to result in suppression of sensory neural responses to self-produced voices that are predicted by the efference copies during vocal production in comparison with passive listening to the playback of the identical self-vocalizations. In the present study, event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded in response to upward pitch shift stimuli (PSS) with five different magnitudes (0, +50, +100, +200 and +400 cents) at voice onset during active vocal production and passive listening to the playback.


Results indicated that the suppression of the N1 component during vocal production was largest for unaltered voice feedback (PSS: 0 cents), became smaller as the magnitude of PSS increased to 200 cents, and was almost completely eliminated in response to 400 cents stimuli.


Findings of the present study suggest that the brain utilizes the motor predictions (efference copies) to determine the source of incoming stimuli and maximally suppresses the auditory responses to unaltered feedback of self-vocalizations. The reduction of suppression for 50, 100 and 200 cents and its elimination for 400 cents pitch-shifted voice auditory feedback support the idea that motor-driven suppression of voice feedback leads to distinctly different sensory neural processing of self vs. non-self vocalizations. This characteristic may enable the audio-vocal system to more effectively detect and correct for unexpected errors in the feedback of self-produced voice pitch compared with externally-generated sounds.