Auditory plasticity and speech motor learning

Sazzad M. Nasir, David J. Ostry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Is plasticity in sensory and motor systems linked? Here, in the context of speech motor learning and perception, we test the idea sensory function is modified by motor learning and, in particular, that speech motor learning affects a speaker's auditory map. We assessed speech motor learning by using a robotic device that displaced the jaw and selectively altered somatosensory feedback during speech. We found that with practice speakers progressively corrected for the mechanical perturbation and after motor learning they also showed systematic changes in their perceptual classification of speech sounds. The perceptual shift was tied to motor learning. Individuals that displayed greater amounts of learning also showed greater perceptual change. Perceptual change was not observed in control subjects that produced the same movements, but in the absence of a force field, nor in subjects that experienced the force field but failed to adapt to the mechanical load. The perceptual effects observed here indicate the involvement of the somatosensory system in the neural processing of speech sounds and suggest that speech motor learning results in changes to auditory perceptual function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20470-20475
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number48
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009


  • Sensorimotor adaptation
  • Speech perception
  • Speech production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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