Department of Psychology
Speech perception and production are intimately linked. There is evidence that speech motor learning results in changes to auditory processing of speech. Whether speech motor control benefits from perceptual learning in speech, however, remains unclear. This event-related potential study investigated whether speech-sound learning can modulate the processing of feedback errors during vocal pitch regulation. Mandarin speakers were trained to perceive five Thai lexical tones while learning to associate pictures with spoken words over 5 days. Before and after training, participants produced sustained vowel sounds while they heard their vocal pitch feedback unexpectedly perturbed. As compared to the pre-training session, the magnitude of vocal compensation significantly decreased for the control group, but remained consistent for the trained group at the post-training session. However, the trained group had smaller and faster N1 responses to pitch perturbations and exhibited enhanced P2 responses that correlated significantly with their learning performance. These findings indicate that the cortical processing of vocal pitch regulation can be shaped by learning new speech-sound associations, suggesting that perceptual learning in speech can produce transfer effects to facilitating the neural mechanisms underlying the online monitoring of auditory feedback regarding vocal production.
Chen, Z. et al. Transfer Effect of Speech-sound Learning on Auditory-motor Processing of Perceived Vocal Pitch Errors. Sci. Rep. 5, 13134; doi: 10.1038/srep13134 (2015).