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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Auditory-motor adaptation to frequency-altered auditory feedback occurs when participants ignore feedback

Dwayne Keough, Colin Hawco and Jeffery A Jones*

Author affiliations

Psychology Department & Laurier Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, ON, N2L 3C5, Canada

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2013, 14:25  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-14-25

Published: 9 March 2013



Auditory feedback is important for accurate control of voice fundamental frequency (F0). The purpose of this study was to address whether task instructions could influence the compensatory responding and sensorimotor adaptation that has been previously found when participants are presented with a series of frequency-altered feedback (FAF) trials. Trained singers and musically untrained participants (nonsingers) were informed that their auditory feedback would be manipulated in pitch while they sang the target vowel [/ɑ /]. Participants were instructed to either ‘compensate’ for, or ‘ignore’ the changes in auditory feedback. Whole utterance auditory feedback manipulations were either gradually presented (‘ramp’) in -2 cent increments down to -100 cents (1 semitone) or were suddenly (’constant‘) shifted down by 1 semitone.


Results indicated that singers and nonsingers could not suppress their compensatory responses to FAF, nor could they reduce the sensorimotor adaptation observed during both the ramp and constant FAF trials.


Compared to previous research, these data suggest that musical training is effective in suppressing compensatory responses only when FAF occurs after vocal onset (500-2500 ms). Moreover, our data suggest that compensation and adaptation are automatic and are influenced little by conscious control.

Internal model; Sensorimotor; Frequency-altered feedback; Auditory feedback; Fundamental frequency; Pitch; Musical training; Singing; Voice; Speech production