The role of auditory feedback in sustaining vocal vibrato

Ciara Leydon, Jay J. Bauer, Charles R. Larson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Vocal vibrato and tremor are characterized by oscillations in voice fundamental frequency (F0). These oscillations may be sustained by a control loop within the auditory system. One component of the control loop is the pitch-shift reflex (PSR). The PSR is a closed loop negative feedback reflex that is triggered in response to discrepancies between intended and perceived pitch with a latency of ∼ 100 ms. Consecutive compensatory reflexive responses lead to oscillations in pitch every ∼200 ms, resulting in ∼5-Hz modulation of F0. Pitch-shift reflexes were elicited experimentally in six subjects while they sustained /u/vowels at a comfortable pitch and loudness. Auditory feedback was sinusoidally modulated at discrete integer frequencies (1 to 10 Hz) with ±25 cents amplitude. Modulated auditory feedback induced oscillations in voice F0 output of all subjects at rates consistent with vocal vibrato and tremor. Transfer functions revealed peak gains at 4 to 7 Hz in all subjects, with an average peak gain at 5 Hz. These gains occurred in the modulation frequency region where the voice output and auditory feedback signals were in phase. A control loop in the auditory system may sustain vocal vibrato and tremorlike oscillations in voice F0.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1575-1581
Number of pages7
Journaljournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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