Precise feedback control underlies sensorimotor learning in speech

Chris Vaughn, Sazzad M. Nasir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Acquiring the skill of speaking in another language, or for that matter a child’s learning to talk, does not follow a single recipe. People learn by variable amounts. A major component of speech learnability seems to be sensing precise feedback errors to correct subsequent utterances that help maintain speech goals. We have tested this idea in a speech motor learning paradigm under altered auditory feedback, in which subjects repeated a word while their auditory feedback was changed online. Subjects learned the task to variable degrees, with some simply failing to learn. We assessed feedback contribution by computing one-lag covariance between formant trajectories of the current feedback and the following utterance that was found to be a significant predictor of learning. Our findings rely on a novel use of informationrich formant trajectories in evaluating speech motor learning and argue for their relevance in auditory speech goals of vowel sounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)950-955
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015


  • Feedback control
  • Formant trajectory
  • Learning variability
  • Speech motor learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


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