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Front. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00113

Auditory-motor Control of Vocal Production During Divided Attention: Behavioral and ERP Correlates

Ying Liu1,  Hao Fan1,  Jingting Li1,  Jeffery A. Jones2, Peng Liu1, Baofeng Zhang1 and  Hanjun Liu1*
  • 1Rehabilitation Medicine, Sun Yat-sen University, China
  • 2Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada

When people hear unexpected perturbations in auditory feedback, they produce rapid compensatory adjustments of their vocal behavior. Recent evidence has shown enhanced vocal compensations and cortical event-related potentials (ERPs) in response to attended pitch feedback perturbations, suggesting that this reflex-like behavior is influenced by selective attention. Less is known, however, about auditory-motor integration for voice control during divided attention. The present cross-modal study investigated the behavioral and ERP correlates of auditory feedback control of vocal pitch production during divided attention. During the production of sustained vowels, thirty-two young adults were instructed to simultaneously attend to both pitch feedback perturbations they heard and flashing red lights they saw. The presentation rate of the visual stimuli was varied to produce a low, intermediate, and high attentional load. The behavioral results showed that the low-load condition elicited significantly smaller vocal compensations for pitch perturbations than the intermediate-load and high-load conditions. As well, the cortical processing of vocal pitch feedback was also modulated as a function of divided attention. When compared to the low-load and intermediate-load conditions, the high-load condition elicited significantly larger N1 responses and smaller P2 responses to pitch perturbations. These findings provide the first neurobehavioral evidence that divided attention can modulate auditory feedback control of vocal pitch production.

Keywords: auditory feedback, Speech Motor Control, divided attention, Attentional load, working memory

Received: 18 Nov 2017; Accepted: 13 Feb 2018.

Edited by:

Huan Luo, Peking University, China

Reviewed by:

Dan Zhang, Tsinghua University, China
Soo-Eun Chang, University of Michigan Health System, United States  

Copyright: © 2018 Liu, Fan, Li, Jones, Liu, Zhang and Liu. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Hanjun Liu, Sun Yat-sen University, Rehabilitation Medicine, Guangzhou, China, lhanjun@mail.sysu.edu.cn