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Open Access Research article

Effect of temporal predictability on the neural processing of self-triggered auditory stimulation during vocalization

Zhaocong Chen, Xi Chen, Peng Liu, Dongfeng Huang* and Hanjun Liu*

Author Affiliations

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, The First Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, 510080, People's Republic of China

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BMC Neuroscience 2012, 13:55  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-13-55

Published: 30 May 2012

Abstract

Background

Sensory consequences of our own actions are perceived differently from the sensory stimuli that are generated externally. The present event-related potential (ERP) study examined the neural responses to self-triggered stimulation relative to externally-triggered stimulation as a function of delays between the motor act and the stimulus onset. While sustaining a vowel phonation, subjects clicked a mouse and heard pitch-shift stimuli (PSS) in voice auditory feedback at delays of either 0 ms (predictable) or 500–1000 ms (unpredictable). The motor effect resulting from the mouse click was corrected in the data analyses. For the externally-triggered condition, PSS were delivered by a computer with a delay of 500–1000 ms after the vocal onset.

Results

As compared to unpredictable externally-triggered PSS, P2 responses to predictable self-triggered PSS were significantly suppressed, whereas an enhancement effect for P2 responses was observed when the timing of self-triggered PSS was unpredictable.

Conclusions

These findings demonstrate the effect of the temporal predictability of stimulus delivery with respect to the motor act on the neural responses to self-triggered stimulation. Responses to self-triggered stimulation were suppressed or enhanced compared with the externally-triggered stimulation when the timing of stimulus delivery was predictable or unpredictable. Enhancement effect of unpredictable self-triggered stimulation in the present study supports the idea that sensory suppression of self-produced action may be primarily caused by an accurate prediction of stimulus timing, rather than a movement-related non-specific suppression.