Instructing subjects to make a voluntary response reveals the presence of two components to the audio-vocal reflex

Timothy C. Hain*, Theresa A. Burnett, Swathi Kiran, Charles R. Larson, Shajila Singh, Mary K. Kenney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Scopus citations


Previous findings have shown that subjects respond to an alteration, or shift, of auditory feedback pitch with a change in voice fundamental frequency (F0). When pitch shifts exceeding 500 ms in duration were presented, subjects' averaged responses appeared to consist of both an early and a late component. The latency of the second response was long enough to be produced voluntarily. To test the hypothesis that there are two responses to pitch-shift stimuli and to clarify the role of intention, subjects were instructed to change their voice F0 in the opposite direction of the pitch-shift stimulus, in the same direction, or not to respond at all. In a second group, subjects were tested under the above conditions as well as under instructions to raise voice F0 or to lower F0 as rapidly as possible upon hearing a pitch shift. Results showed that, when given instructions to produce a voluntary response, subjects made both an early vocal response (VR1) and a later vocal response (VR2). The second response, VR2, was almost always made in the instructed direction, whereas VR1 was often made incorrectly. The latency of VR1 was reduced under instructions to respond to feedback pitch shifts by changing voice F0 in the opposite direction, compared with that when told to ignore the pitch shifts. Latency and amplitude measures of VR2 differed under the various experimental conditions. These results demonstrate that there are two responses to pitch-shift stimuli. The first is relatively automatic but may be modulated by instructions to the participant. The second response is probably a voluntary one.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-141
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000


  • Audio-vocal reflex
  • Auditory feedback
  • Pitch shift
  • Vocalization
  • Voice fundamental frequency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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